Toddler spurs pole vaulter Rachel Yang to scale greater heights

SOME claim a woman athlete's career ends once she gives birth.

But for national pole vaulter Rachel Isabel Yang, her career aspirations have only been fuelled since the birth of her son Zacchaeus.

The 33-year-old, who returned to training just three weeks after giving birth in 2013, has a new- found motivation these days.

Said her husband and coach David Yeo: "Motherhood has changed her as an athlete. There is a greater reason for her to do well now."

He dreams of his wife carrying the two-year-old Zacchaeus while running a celebratory lap in the stadium with the Singapore flag draped over her after earning the country's first women's pole vault medal.

Yang is on course to fulfilling her husband's dream. She has been achieving consistently good results in recent international competitions - the Malaysia Open (3.83m), the Taiwan Open (3.85m), and the Busan International Pole Vault Meeting (3.80m).

"Rachel's scores this year are probably the most consistent in her career. However, she's still adapting to her new pole, which is stiffer, so we hope she can peak at the SEA Games," said David.

While Thai Sukanya Chomchuendee is expected to clinch gold easily, there will be a tense battle for silver between Yang and Filipino Riezel Buenaventura.

Even though she is Singapore's record holder with her Taipei mark, Yang still tends to be nervous at international competitions, hence there are plans for her to participate in the Asian Athletics Championships in Wuhan, China, before her SEA Games competition on June 11.

For men's pole vaulter Sean Lim, whose national mark stands at 5.01m, competition will be even tougher as he goes up against the Philippines' record holder Ernest John Obiena and Malaysian record holder Iskandar Alwi.

At the Busan meet two days ago, Obiena set a new meet record of 5.30m, already surpassing the SEA Games record of 5.21m, while Alwi came close with a height of 5.20m.

berelow@sph.com.sg

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