Sprinter Diane wants to follow in Shanti Pereira's footsteps
Sky's the limit for hungry Sports School sprinter Diane
There was a time when she could not even make the podium.
By her own admission, Diane Hilary Pragasam was not a born sprinter.
But, through hard work and determination, she won four gold medals to become the most bemedalled athlete at April's National Schools Track and Field Championships.
The Singapore Sports School Secondary 2 student (above, left) was yesterday crowned the girls' winner of this year's The New Paper School Sports Star Award presented by H-TWO-O.
Diane, 14, received a trophy, certificate and $3,000 from the Guest-of-Honour - Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu - at a ceremony at the Sports School auditorium.
The boys' award went to National Junior College shooter Wong Han Xuan. The winners were chosen by a selection panel, taking into consideration public voting.
Eight other finalists received $500 each, while 13 other nominees were given certificates of participation.
"In primary school, the top-four runners get prizes, but there was no space for the fourth-placed runner on the podium. I would (often) be the one standing beside the podium," recalled Diane, who looks up to 2015 South-east Asia Games 200m gold-medallist Shanti Pereira as her role model. Former Sports School student Shanti also managed the same four-gold feat at the 2010 and 2011 schools' championships.
The jovial Diane dedicated her win to the support system around her.
"I'm very happy I have people in my life like my family, friends, teachers and coaches who have put in the hours and sacrifices to help me get to where I am today," she said.
"If it wasn't for them, I would not have been here."
Her father, civil servant Christopher Pragasam, 42, said: "I'm extremely proud. We provide only the support environment and the rest is up to her.
"This girl has the hunger and is really self-motivated. She has the desire to go as far as she wants."
Said Ms Fu: "The New Paper started this award in 2011 to recognise some of the best student-athletes.
"The award recognises not only their sporting achievements, but more importantly, the strength of their character as well as the contributions they make to their schools.
"They are certainly role models for their peers, both in and outside of the sporting arena."
TNP Sports Editor Lim Han Ming said: "The New Paper School Sports Star Award is about identifying, recognising and motivating the next generation of athletes in Singapore.
"Sailor Jonathan Yeo - the boys' winner for the award in 2012 - bounced back from a horrific cycling accident to become a world champion last year. We hope this year's nominees and winners will be inspired to achieve great things in their sporting careers and we look forward to hearing more success stories like Jonathan's."
- Wong Han Xuan (Shooting, National Junior College)
- Diane Hilary Pragasam (Athletics, Singapore Sports School)
- Ashley Han (Volleyball, Dunman Secondary School)
- Brian Cheong (Fencing, Singapore Sports School)
- Chong Koi Kiat (Canoeing, National JC)
- Haikal Ismail (Athletics, Millennia Institute)
- Kristin Pang (Athletics, Victoria JC)
- Shaahidah Zulkifli (Football, Bowen Secondary School)
- Toh Wei Yu (Athletics, Raffles Institution)
- Vanessa Lee (Athletics, Victoria JC)
- Aloysius Ong (Softball, Catholic High School)
- Darryl Sim (Badminton, Singapore Sports School)
- Dineshraj Naidu (Hockey, St Andrew's Secondary School)
- Elliot Tan (Softball, Catholic High School)
- Goh Aik Lang (Handball, Damai Secondary School)
- Jason Quah (Archery, Junyuan Secondary School)
- Joshua Chua (Athletics, RI)
- Jovi Lim (Basketball, RI)
- Kevin Ong (Swimming, Anglo-Chinese School (Ind))
- Lai Jia Jie (Football, Coral Sec)
- Leong Xiu Heng (Volleyball, Bukit Panjang High School)
- Lim Shern (Rugby, ACS (I))
- Rachael Han Fujisawa (Football, Victoria JC)