Windsurfer Audrey Yong charting her own course

Windsurfer Audrey Yong, 21, who says hers is an "unpredictable sport", is not intimidated by the opposition at the Rio Olympics.
Windsurfer Audrey Yong, 21, who says hers is an "unpredictable sport", is not intimidated by the opposition at the Rio Olympics. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Yong just wants to go to Rio to measure her progress on the world stage

By the time Olympic windsurfer Audrey Yong's interview with The Straits Times at the National Sailing Centre had ended at 5.15pm yesterday, she had already spent three hours chatting with the media.

Prior to that, the 21-year-old also went out to sea for an hour so that photographers could snap her in action.

She had to cram all that in before her midnight flight to Rio de Janeiro to join the Team Singapore sailors for a training stint before the Aug 5-21 Games.

Despite her hectic day, Yong did not let fatigue faze her and was chirpy when she spoke, remaining her bubbly and jovial self.

The 21-year-old, who had put sailing on the back-burner since March to focus on her internship with Marina Bay Sands, said: "I can't believe I got the news about Rio just last week - it feels like months ago. This past week has been a never-ending string of events and it feels like I haven't stopped moving ever since.

SURREAL

I can't believe I got the news about Rio just last week - it feels like months ago. The past week has been a never-ending string of events and it feels like I haven't stopped moving ever since.

AUDREY YONG, a late addition to the Olympic sailing contingent.

"I had to go through vaccinations, doctors' appointments, interviews, photo shoots, training sessions and even had a competition.

"Every night, I just want to sleep and try not to think about tomorrow because it'll be another hectic day ahead."

Yong was a late addition to the Republic's sailing contingent after she was nominated by the Singapore Sailing Federation to take up the unused women's RS:X quota place awarded by world governing body World Sailing.

Her nomination was endorsed by the Singapore National Olympic Council last week, bringing the total number of sailors bound for Brazil to 10 across six classes.

The final-year Singapore Polytechnic hotel management student will be the first Singapore woman windsurfer to compete in the Summer Games. Team-mate Leonard Ong, the country's first Olympic male windsurfer since 1984, also flew to Rio with Yong last night.

The reigning SEA Games champion and 2010 Youth Olympic Games bronze medallist said: "It's a big honour to sail as Singapore's first female windsurfer in the Olympics.

"I hope this brings windsurfing here to new heights and in the future, people will be able to continue in the sport so this is a form of awareness also."

Even though this will be her Olympic debut, Yong is not intimidated by the other competitors in her class - most of whom are seasoned Olympians and world champions.

"Windsurfing is an unpredictable sport. I've heard from the other sailors over there that the course is also tricky," she added. "In windsurfing, you may be the best person in the whole pack but one wrong decision will leave you for dead. Everyone's on an equal playing field.

"When it comes to the Olympics, it's usually the smartest sailors who make the least mistakes who will win - it all boils down to that. For myself, I just want to go out there and see how far I've progressed as a sailor on the world stage."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2016, with the headline 'Charting her own course'. Print Edition | Subscribe