Third time lucky for Yang

Third time lucky for Yang
SILVER LINING: Singapore’s Rachel Yang breaks her own national record in the women’s pole vault event, after coming in second.

She finished empty-handed in two previous SEA Games, but the third time was the charm for Singapore's Rachel Yang.

The pole vaulter cleared 3.90m to bag the silver medal at the National Stadium yesterday.

Thailand's defending champion, Chayanisa Chomchuendee was the class act of the field, effortlessly going over the bar at 4.10m on her first attempt to win gold.

The 26-year-old Thai was known as Sukanya Chomchuendee at the 2013 SEA Games but changed her name for luck.

She recovered enough from a tendon tear in her ankle suffered a few months ago, but Chayanisa failed to improve on her Games record of 4.21m set two years ago.

Runner-up Yang was positively beaming after her silver medal.

"It's surreal because this is my first medal in three SEA Games. In the last two I was not able to do well, so this one I really need to thank the home crowd for their support."

The 33-year-old set a new national record, improving on her own 3.83m record she set in March at the Malaysian Open.

The first record was set shortly after the death of Singapore's Founding Father Lee Kuan Yew.

Yang dedicated that record-breaking effort to the late Prime Minister, who has been a source of motivation for her.

"A Lee Kuan Yew figurine is still in my bag. Before today's competition, I made sure it was there," she told The New Paper.

"This time round I dedicate my win to the home crowd, the people who supported me all the way and also to the victims of the recent Mount Kinabalu earthquake.

"I was in China preparing for competition when I learnt about the incident, so I was very upset and I told myself I needed to do something and dedicate something to them."

Despite her smiles, Yang admitted she was not all happy with her performance.

"In training I've been quite consistent at 4m. Today I think I was a little bit overwhelmed and I need to go back and review my performance," she said.

Her feat meant Yang has managed to fulfil a personal goal.

"I had a dream, I wanted to bring him (son Zacchaeus) to the podium," said Yang.

Speaking after the victory ceremony, she said: "I felt very bad because I woke him up, he was sleeping… but he behaved."

The two-year-old is a son of two athletes - Yang's husband, David Yeo, is the national pole vault coach - and is sporty and active.

"My parents always have a hard time taking care of him when I go for competitions," said Yang.

Zacchaeus had the gold medal around his neck when mum won the pole vault event in Malaysia in March.

This time he showed off a more prestigious silver medal, and Yang joked: "He's quite used to standing on the podium, so I think he will no longer have stage fright."

This article was first published on June 12, 2015.
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