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Giving up is not an option for Singapore Sports School award winners

Aniq ‘Asri Yazid had the odds stacked against him in the World Pencak Silat Championships (Class B, 50-55kg) final, held in Malacca in July 2022.

Not only was the 17-year-old battling a knee injury, his opponent was Malaysia’s Khairi Adib, backed by a loud and passionate home support.

Despite these obstacles, Aniq secured a historic upset against the reigning SEA Games champion. He said: “The injury was really painful but I took my coach’s advice to keep pushing.

“The crowd went mad and starting giving me negative comments and jeered at me. But I just blocked my ears and stay focused on the match.”

He is already eyeing more silverware. After an unsuccessful SEA Games debut in 2022, Aniq is gunning for gold at May’s edition in Cambodia. He said: “Missing out on a medal at the last SEA Games was a big disappointment.

“This time, my opponents will be wary of me as I’m the world champion so it’s not going to be easy. I definitely want to bring a gold medal back for Singapore.”

On Tuesday, he was named the Singapore Sports School’s Moo Soon Chong outstanding student-athlete of the year (secondary school), for those who excel in both sport and studies while displaying exemplary conduct. National swimmer Maximillian Ang received the same award under the post-secondary category from Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong.

At the 2021 Hanoi SEA Games, Ang became the first Singaporean male to win the 200m breaststroke gold. He also broke the national record in the 100m breast where he took silver. He collected five medals (two golds, one silver, two bronzes) in total.

Success did not come easy though Ang, 21, trained twice a day while pursuing his diploma in sport and leisure management. While most of his friends were asleep, he was in the pool doing laps at 5.45am.

He said: “I’m not a morning person. Everytime I wake up at five in the morning I always question myself ‘why am I doing this’. It’s not a very nice feeling and sometimes I will feel like giving up... but I always remind myself that in order to be the best I have to do things other people will not do.”

He competed at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and clocked personal bests in the 50m and 100m breast. In the heats of the latter, he raced alongside his idol Adam Peaty, Great Britain’s Olympic champion. Ang said: “Racing with the world’s best was an eye-opener for me. I’m really excited because I’ll be competing with them again in the future.”

Aside from Ang and Aniq, other winners on Tuesday were Nur Shaqira Sheik Alau’ddin (silat), Wong Xin Ru (table tennis) – for the Moo Soon Chong award – while Fernal Tan (shooting) and Nur Insyirah Khan (badminton) received the Annabel Pennefather Excellence award. Chan Jun Kai (wushu) and Joel Chiu (fencing) took home the Tan Howe Liang Excellence award.