Olympic Movement gives top honours to Singapore philanthropist Peter Lim
By Justin Kor
While tycoon Peter Lim is known for a business empire that stretches from healthcare to hospitality, the honours of the Olympic Movement are less associated with the Singaporean private investor.
Yet, away from the eye-catching media stories of his Spanish football club Valencia CF and latest blockbuster investments, he has been quietly supporting young Singaporean athletes to pursue their sporting dreams for close to a decade.
In 2010, he made a S$10 million donation to the Singapore Olympic Foundation (SOF) to set up the SOF-Peter Lim scholarship. The figure remains the single largest donation from an individual towards sports development in Singapore.
Since then, the scholarship has since helped more than 2,600 student-athletes chase their sporting dreams, with over S$7.2 million worth of grants disbursed.
Today, he renewed his commitment by pumping in another S$10 million to further fund the scholarship from 2021 to 2030. In addition, he has pledged a separate S$20 million to start a new community project focused on helping children with less privileged backgrounds reach their potential.
His contributions to sport and community have earned the plaudits of the Singapore National Olympic Council and International Olympic Committee (IOC), which bestowed one of its highest honours to Mr Lim today.
The IOC trophy was presented to him by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat at the SOF-Peter Lim scholarship awards ceremony, held at Temasek Polytechnic. The accolade usually honours a prominent figure or organisation for their contribution to the Olympic Movement.
Mr Heng, the event’s guest of honour, hailed Mr Lim as an “individual who has made significant contributions to sports”.
“His generous donations make the SOF-Peter Lim scholarship possible. The scholarship has benefited and played a part in the successes of many of our Team Singapore athletes who have made Singapore proud,” he said.
“Mr Lim’s continued generosity will enable the foundation and other stakeholders to support more young aspiring athletes and fund new programmes. His donation is a vote of confidence and belief in Singapore’s young athletes.”
Past recipients have used the scholarship to pay for competition expenses, sporting equipment, and school fees. This stems from Mr Lim’s wish to ensure that no young athlete chasing his sporting dreams should be held back by financial difficulties, shared SOF chairman and IOC executive board member Ng Ser Miang.
“10 years ago, leading up to the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG), I had lunch with Peter and shared with him plans to set up the Singapore Olympic Foundation, as a way to continue the legacy of the YOG,” he said.
“Peter was very enthusiastic and particularly keen to support young athletes without financial support to fulfil their sporting dreams.”
This year, 280 student-athletes will receive scholarships worth S$781,000, with 53 receiving the high performance under-18 scholarships. It is a record number.
Among them was 16-year-old Mas Ridzuan, a third-time scholarship recipient, and the first cyclist to receive the high performance award.
“This award has given me the inspiration and confidence to train harder. If my bike spoils, I’ll be able to use the money to fix it. When I do well in my sport, I try to be a good example to young children and encourage them to take up cycling,” said the Northlight School student, who represents Singapore in regional BMX cycling competitions.
“I’m very thankful to the SOF-Peter Lim Scholarship for supporting my passion in BMX cycling, and I hope to make it to the Olympic Games one day.”
The local scholarship with an international reach
Mr Lim is a local sports enthusiast with a global presence. Besides being the owner of Valencia, which plays in the top tier of the Spanish football league, he also co-owns English football side Salford City with football stars like David Beckham and Ryan Giggs.
Thanks to his stature on the world stage, the biggest names in sports have lent their support to previous SOF-Peter Lim events.
Football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who made a surprise visit to Crest Secondary School in 2013, mesmerised over 200 students with his trademark stepovers, and inspired them with a talk on how he achieved success.
In 2016, football manager Jose Mourinho also visited Northlight School, where he gave a talk to scholarship recipients that focused on the future of young athletes.
Other decorated personalities to have graced previous SOF-PL ceremonies include Indian shooter Abhinav Bindra, who won a gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, and Logan Tom, a double Olympic silver medallist of the USA women’s volleyball team.
This year, former Australian swimmer Libby Trickett, a four-time Olympic champion, is the latest special guest, sharing her story and giving advice to the young student-athletes.
“Ultimately at whatever level you’re at, be it at school sports or representing your country, it’s all about doing your personal best on that day, whatever the conditions,” she said.
“Sometimes that means your best performance. Sometimes it just simply means doing your best, making it through, and learning something from it. It’s important to embrace those moments and challenges.”