Evolve MMA's sponsorship scheme helps extend fighters' careers
World champion Constance Lien among beneficiaries from sponsorship
Fuelled by pure passion, Singapore's Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) world champion Constance Lien has blazed a trail for the martial art in recent few years.
Lien, who had largely relied on her own funding, won an Asian Games silver medal in 2018, a world title and the SEA Games gold last year.
Thanks to Evolve MMA's Future World Champions Program, which was launched yesterday, Lien will get more financial support for her sporting dreams.
The 21-year-old, who also received Sport Singapore's Sports Excellence Scholarship in April, can see herself staying longer in the sport now.
Besides Lien, siblings Noah and Paul Lim were also selected for Evolve's scheme, which will provide complimentary training at Evolve MMA with guidance from world-class coaches, and a full sponsorship to cover competition and travel expenses.
"I am very blessed to be given this opportunity and support. An athlete's support system is so important, and this is just another great example of it," said Lien.
"With this long-term support, my work ethic and my dreams, I definitely can go far... to be fully supported in such a way, it would definitely impact my dream to be bigger and, obviously, I can stay in the sport a lot longer."
A lack of funding would have been a huge impediment and Lien was thus grateful to Chatri Sityodtong, who is the founder and chairman of Evolve MMA and CEO of One Championship.
She took up the martial art four years ago, and had forked out $22,000 in her endeavour to scale the heights of her sport to become a world champion.
Last year, Lien clinched the women's blue belt featherweight (Under-58.5kg) title at the World IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championships in Los Angeles, with competition fees alone setting her back $10,000.
Her gym fees came up to $3,000 a year, while her equipment costs a few hundreds.
"To be given support for the entire duration of my athlete life, that is very generous of Chatri and I'm very grateful," said Lien.
The scheme gives athletes full autonomy in their pursuit of glory and Lien is glad to be sticking with her current trainer Teco Shinzato, who is also the national coach and a two-time world champion.
Due to Covid-19 control measures, Lien is training to the best that the situation allows for.
Under Sport Singapore's Phase 2 guidelines, grappling - a key facet in BJJ - is not allowed.
Hence, the Temasek Polytechnic graduate, who will resume university studies next month, is spending most of her time on strength and conditioning, and BJJ-oriented training on dummies at least once a day.
The Lim brothers, Noah and Paul, were also very enthusiastic about the initiative.
Said Paul, who won a SEA Games bronze in the Philippines last year: "I have a new-found belief to chase my goals...
"I am honoured and grateful to Chatri Sityodtong and the world champion instructors at Evolve MMA for the opportunity."
Added SEA Games gold medallist Noah: "I am very honoured... grateful for the support... really happy that this will allow the sporting scene to evolve as well."
The Evolve Future World Champions Program is open to all Singaporean residents.
It applies to exponents from muay thai, BJJ, boxing, no-gi grappling, wrestling and MMA.
For more information or to apply, visit www.evolve-mma.com/future-world-champions-program.