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South West athletes Alex Saffy & Lekeisha Pergoliti continue path to success with elite sporting scholarships

Headshot of Carly Laden
Carly LadenSouth Western Times
FUNCHAL, MADEIRA, PORTUGAL - JUNE 16: Alex Saffy of Australia competes in Men's 100m Butterfly S10 qualification during Day Five of the 2022 World Para Swimming Championships at Penteada Olympic Pools Complex on June 16, 2022 in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)
Camera IconFUNCHAL, MADEIRA, PORTUGAL - JUNE 16: Alex Saffy of Australia competes in Men's 100m Butterfly S10 qualification during Day Five of the 2022 World Para Swimming Championships at Penteada Olympic Pools Complex on June 16, 2022 in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images) Credit: Octavio Passos/Getty Images

A Commonwealth Games silver medallist and a rising star in boxing are set to continue on their respective paths to sporting greatness after becoming the latest talents to receive an elite national scholarship.

South West-raised athletes Alex Saffy and Lekeisha Pergoliti were recently named as two of 10 athletes, and the only WA-based athletes, to receive Tier 2 scholarships in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s Scholarship and Mentoring program for 2023.

The scholarship adds another accolade to a breakout year for 16-year-old “Bunbury Bullet” Saffy, who claimed bronze in the 2022 World Para Swimming Championships in Madeira in June and a silver medal in his Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham last month.

SMETHWICK, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Silver medalist, Alex Anthony Saffy of Team Australia and Gold medalist, Col Pearse of Team Australia pose with their medals during the medal ceremony for the Men's 100m Butterfly S10 Final on day five of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Sandwell Aquatics Centre on August 02, 2022 in Smethwick, England. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Camera IconSMETHWICK, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Silver medalist, Alex Anthony Saffy of Team Australia and Gold medalist, Col Pearse of Team Australia pose with their medals during the medal ceremony for the Men's 100m Butterfly S10 Final on day five of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Sandwell Aquatics Centre on August 02, 2022 in Smethwick, England. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

“I am very grateful for all the support I’ve received to pursue my goals and appreciate being selected as a successful SAHOF scholarship recipient,” Saffy said.

“It is an honour to be given the opportunity, especially to be amongst so many amazing athletes and role models.”

After taking home his first international medal on debut in Portugal, Saffy told the South Western Times it felt “unreal”.

“I have been dreaming of this since I was a kid and everything is falling into place at the moment,” he said.

“I am just going to live in the moment and enjoy that experience.”

For 20-year-old Pergoliti, the scholarship adds to her burgeoning elite amateur boxing career having previously placed second in the 2022 Women’s Worlds selection and Birmingham Commonwealth Games selection events earlier this year.

Lekeisha Pergoliti was all smiles after her Australian title win, with her father Vince training her to glory.
Camera IconLekeisha Pergoliti was all smiles after her Australian title win, with her father Vince training her to glory. Credit: Justin Fris/Harvey-Waroona Reporter

Pergoliti also becomes the fifth boxer selected in the SAHOF Scholarship and Mentoring program since 2006.

“I am extremely honoured and grateful that SAHOF have given me this scholarship,” Pergoliti said.

“Receiving this scholarship will allow me to travel to train and compete, assist with recovery and elevate me as an elite athlete inside and outside of the ring.

“All I have ever wanted since I started boxing is to represent my country and proudly wear the green and gold and with their support I have so much belief that my dream will become reality.”

The SAHOF Scholarship and Mentoring program is Australia’s leading sports scholarship program, backed by the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Institute of Sport.

The three-tiered initiative awards annual funding of $150,000 across 32 scholarships to support the next generation of Australia’s sporting stars.

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