Swimmers Joseph Schooling, Amanda Lim's SEA Games prize money put on hold over cannabis use
Even as the local sports fraternity celebrated its achievements at the MAP Awards Presentation on Wednesday, national swimmers Joseph Schooling and Amanda Lim - who had confessed to consuming cannabis - will have to wait to bank in their cheques for their SEA Games gold medals, as the duo's prize money has been put on hold.
This was confirmed by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), which runs the MAP Awards, a Major Games Award Programme that disburses cash rewards for the Olympic, Asian, Commonwealth and SEA Games.
Schooling, 27, won two golds and a bronze at the Hanoi SEA Games, while Amanda, 29, bagged a gold and silver. Both athletes, who would have earned $13,750 and $3,750 respectively, were not present at the ceremony on Wednesday.
SNOC president Tan Chuan-Jin also took the occasion to remind athletes that their actions "do not merely have an impact on us, but also on the larger community".
In his speech at Timbre+ Eastside @ Expo, Tan stressed that an athlete's selection is earned by meeting the criteria set by the SNOC and the national sports associations, which includes more than just performance benchmarks.
His remarks came two weeks after Olympic champion Schooling and Lim were investigated by the Central Narcotics Bureau for the consumption of cannabis.
While Tan did not refer to the incident specifically, he reiterated that athletes have to "commit to a team membership agreement which includes a stipulated code of conduct".
He added: "As representatives of the country, we all have a part to play while we are at the Games. Our actions and behaviour do not merely have an impact on us, but also on the larger community. Let's continue to stick to the goals, focus on your performance, look after your teammates and be as exemplary as you can."
At the ceremony, the SNOC and Tote Board rewarded 68 medallists with up to $860,000 - $495,000 for the SEA Games and $365,000 for the Commonwealth Games.
The night's top earner was veteran paddler Feng Tianwei, who banked in $85,000 for the three gold medals she won at the July 28-Aug 8 Birmingham Commonwealth Games in what was expected to be the 36-year-old's last competitive outing.
While she remained coy when asked about her future, Feng said: "I'm very happy that I was able to perform the way I did at the Commonwealth Games."
Badminton mixed doubles pair Terry Hee and Jessica Tan delivered one of the standout performances of the Games, where they won a historic gold medal.
Hee said: "I feel really honoured and happy at the same time that all our hard work has finally paid off. It means a lot to us because this is the first time we are getting this together so it's extra meaningful."
It is also a boost for the married couple as they work towards qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Following their gold medal heroics in Birmingham, Hee and Tan noted that expectations of them have increased. In the following two competitions - the world championships and Japan Open - they made it to the round of 16.
Tan said: "We went in more confident and certain of ourselves. Our opponents treated us differently in a good way because we felt they held us in higher regard."
Hee believes this is crucial as they remain determined to continue making history.
Ahead of the Denmark Open in October, he said: "During crucial moments last time we weren't certain enough to execute certain things but now we are more certain about it and it helps in the game...
"A lot of teams have started to analyse our game. Things will get hard but we will keep training hard."
A 424-strong contingent represented the Republic in 33 sports in Hanoi in May and returned home with 47 gold, 46 silver, 71 bronze medals, 5 Games records, 16 national records and 41 personal bests.
Singapore's 66-member contingent in Birmingham won four medals of each colour.
Athletes are required to give a percentage of their MAP awards (20 per cent for the SEA Games and 50 per cent for the Commonwealth Games) to their respective national sports associations for the purposes of training and development.
Wednesday's ceremony began on a sombre note as Tan paid tribute to Football Association of Singapore president Lim Kia Tong, who died earlier in the day. Calling Lim a "dedicated champion of football", he said "Singapore sports suffered a loss today".
Night's biggest winners
1) Feng Tianwei, table tennis
Three Commonwealth Games golds (women's singles, doubles, team)
2) Zeng Jian, table tennis
Two C'wealth Games golds (women's doubles, team), one silver (women's singles), one bronze (mixed doubles)
3) Teong Tzen Wei, swimming
One C'wealth Games silver (men's 50m butterfly), two SEA Games golds (50m fly, 50m freestyle)
4) Terry Hee & Jessica Tan, badminton
One C'wealth Games gold (mixed doubles), bronze (mixed team)
Total: $31,500 each
5) Quah Jing Wen, swimming
Six SEA Games golds (women's 100m, 200m fly, 200m individual medley, 4x100m free, 4x200m free, 4x100m medley)
6) Clarence Chew, table tennis
One C'wealth Games silver (men's team), two bronzes (men's and mixed doubles) and one SEA Games gold (men's doubles)