Young sailing athletes who could make headlines in 2015

Young sailing athletes who could make headlines in 2015
Jodie Lai with her Asian Games gold medal.

As the country gears up for a grand new year in sport, the Singapore sailing pipeline has thrown up young athletes who could make headlines in 2015.

Here, The New Paper talks to four sailors who made significant strides last year and aim to continue to make progress in the months ahead, and shine at the 2015 South-east Asia Games, which will be held on home soil from June 5 to 16.

 Jodie wants more

She is Singapore's youngest gold medal winner at an Asian Games, and an Optimist class sailing champion across two continents.

With the wind in her sails after a memorable 2014, Jodie Lai (above) is ready for more.

Reflecting on her spectacular year, the 13-year-old said: "It feels really great, and it was a vast improvement on 2013.

"In the 2013 North American Championships, I finished 41st. But last year, I came out as champion.

"It was a big jump in performance, but there is always room for improvement and I hope this year, I can get even better."

That zeal to succeed is exactly what saw the Raffles Girls' Secondary student punch above her weight last year.

After her phenomenal performance at the 2014 North American Championships, Jodie stamped her mark on the Asian Games, taking home the gold medal.

Dad Terrence says the only way for Jodie to stay on top, is for her to train like she isn't.

"I hope Jodie will keep up her performance, but we have to remember that other people are also making great strides," said the head of Biz Mio and OTT TV at SingTel.

"There's no such thing as 'once you're on top, you remain on top'. You need to put in extra effort to make sure that that remains the case."

With this year's International Sailing Federation World Championships and South-east Asia (SEA) Games in mind, that advice has been firmly implanted in Jodie's head.

Qualification for the World Championships begins this month, while that of the SEA Games commences in March.

She said: "2014 is my best year so far, and I want to keep that up.

"If I seal qualification for the World Championships, it will be my first time competing in sailing's premier competition, and I'm looking forward to that most."

HOW I RATE MY 2014: 4/5 stars

FACTFILE

Name: Jodie Lai

Age: 13

Height: 1.48m

Weight: 33kg

School: Raffles Girls' Secondary

Major achievements (2014): North American Championships (Champion) Asian Games (Gold)

Sam keeps it simple

Not many people can claim to have made history, but Samantha Yom is not like most people.

Along with Bernie Chin, Samantha helped Singapore win their first Youth Olympic Games (YOG) gold medals in Nanjing last year.

Samantha came out tops in the Women's Byte CII event, while Bernie won the men's event.

Despite writing her name into the country's history books, Samantha was remarkably cool about her feat.

"I'm just happy to have won it, that's all. I've never won anything on the world stage, so I'm satisfied with winning at the YOG," said the 15-year-old.

"I did know that Singapore had never won gold at the YOG, so when Bernie and I clinched it, we were just grateful to have achieved a first for our country."

Having progressed to the Laser Radial class this year, Samantha will be busy this year.

The South-east Asia (SEA) Games' qualification round - which takes place next month and March - is top on her to-do list, especially with the Games to be hosted on home soil in June.

"Right now, my focus is only on qualifying for the SEA Games. Other than that, there will most likely be some other overseas regattas that the Singapore Sailing Federation will probably organise for us," she said.

"The training this year will be just as intense as last year. I'll most likely be training four times a week as usual.

"But they say the greatest obstacle is yourself. You need to keep yourself motivated throughout, and push yourself to do better.

"That will be quite an obstacle but, this year, I just want to better myself as a sailor."

HOW I RATE MY 2014: 5/5 stars

FACTFILE

Name: Samantha Yom

Age: 15

Height: 1.72m

Weight: 59kg

School: Raffles Girls' Secondary

Major achievements (2014): Dutch Youth Regatta (1st Girl) Youth Olympic Games (Gold)

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