Billionaire Vincent Tan has come forward with financial backing for the academic and sporting pursuits of US-based Malaysian athlete Shereen Vallabouy.

The Berjaya Corporation Berhad founder, through his personal charity organisation Better Malaysia Foundation (BMF), will provide US$52,000 (RM228,000) to support the living expenses and other costs for the 24-year-old, who is pursuing a degree in recreation and tourism at the Winona Stata University in Minnesota.

According to a Free Malaysia Today (FMT) report, the funds will be disbursed from this month until December next year, and will complement the 75% athletics scholarship Shereen receives from her university, as well as funding from her parents.

For the uninitiated, Shereen aced the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II track and field competition in the US in March. She is the youngest daughter of Malaysia’s decorated middle-distance running couple Samson Vallabouy and Josephine Mary Singarayar from Ipoh, Perak.

The portal quoted Tan saying that he was impressed with Shereen's achievement and that he admired her zeal to qualify on merit for the 400m in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

"With such passion in Shereen, it is disheartening that she and her parents had to go through so much struggle to finance her living expenses while pursuing her studies in the US.

"I hope that this contribution will alleviate her financial worries so that she will be able to focus on her training and upcoming competitions," the tycoon was quoted saying.

Tan further expressed hope that more parties from the private sector would step up to assist athletes who are struggling financially to pursue their academic and sporting ambitions.

Receiving the funds, Samson said that the financial assistance was "Godsend", while Josephine dubbed the aid as a "miracle."

Through a video call, Shereen also reportedly thanked Tan and BMF for supporting her passion in athletics.

"I will keep dreaming big and strive to make Malaysia proud," she reportedly said.

It is worth noting that Shereen's victory back in March garnered the attention of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and the Queen, who posted a congratulatory message for her on Istana Negara's official Facebook page.

Source & Photo source: FMT