More than 140 elite athletes have been granted scholarships for their excellent results over the second half of last year. A total of 144 athletes received HK$898,700 under the Hong Kong Sports Institute's (HKSI) special incentive fund. They were rewarded for their superb performances from July to December 2006. The fund, administered by the HKSI with financial support from the government's Facility and Programme Donations Scheme and the Grantham Scholarships Fund, was launched last year. It aims to provide cash incentives to athletes who win medals at international competitions and qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The athletes covered 18 sports, with fencing, table tennis and cycling receiving the highest cash incentives of HK$144,000, HK$99,200 and HK$97,900, respectively. Recipients included 2006 Doha Asian Games medallists and those who had done well at other international competitions, such as badminton players Chan Yan-kit, Wang Chen and Yip Pui-yin, Cheung King-wai and Wong Kam-po (cycling), Chow Tsz-ki (fencing), Ho Ming-cheung, Lee Ka-man, Leung Chun-shek and Lok Kwan-hoi (rowing), Chiu Wing-yin (squash), Sze Hang-yu (swimming), Ko Lai-chak and Li Ching (table tennis), Lee Chi-wo (triathlon), Chan King-yin (windsurfing), Hei Zhi-hong, Leung Ka-wai and Yuen Ka-ying (wushu), Chan Yun-to (bodybuilding) and Fu Ka-chun (snooker). Rower Lee, who won a silver medal at the 2006 Asian Games, appreciated the additional financial support. 'It is not only a recognition of my efforts, but also a great morale booster in my quest for excellence in the sporting field,' she said. Badminton star Yip, 19, who decided to become a full-time athlete a few years ago, said: 'It is important that the fund has eased some of our financial burden, allowing us to concentrate on training and prepare for future competitions.' The HKSI fund covers more than 700 athletes from 13 elite sports and the Individual Athletes Support Scheme. It also provides financial assistance to athletes from the Hong Kong Paralympic Committee & Sports Association for the Physically Disabled and the Hong Kong Sports Association for the Mentally Handicapped. From 2006 to 2009, athletes will receive HK$9 million from the fund.