The sailing dream

Elise Yukie Yokoyama will defer her studies until next August to train for the qualifying rounds of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

NUS BES student, Elisa Yukie Yokoyama sets sail on a journey to chase an Olympic dream.

Elisa Yukie Yokoyama is a current NUS student from the Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) programme. She started sailing at a young age and her passion and aptitude for the sport soon caught the attention of many. As a young athlete, she already has a number of achievements under her belt. In the SEA Games 2015 held in Singapore, she came in first for the female 420 sailing category. She also represented Singapore in many international competitions such as the ISAF Youth World Sailing Championships and the Optimist World Championships where she came in first in 2012. In recognition of her achievements, she was awarded the Sportsgirl of the Year title from the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) in 2013, and subsequently the SNOC Meritorious award in 2016.

When speaking of her dreams, Yukie hopes that her team would be able to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games. She shows great perseverance as this is her second attempt, after failing the qualifying round for the Rio 2016 Olympics Games. When interviewed by TODAY, Yukie mentioned that the future for women 470 sailing class as a category in the Olympic games is uncertain, so she wants to go all out to achieve her goal and focus on her sailing career. This led to her decision to defer her studies in NUS for a year. Her sailing partner, Cheryl Teo, a student studying in a local polytechnic shared Yukie’s determination for sailing and deferred her studies as well. Their passion and commitment for the sport impressed the Singapore Sailing Federation (SSF), who helped them to move one step closer to their dreams by giving them more support and subsequently sent them to compete in the upcoming SEA Games in August, where the girls are aiming for a gold.

Apart from being an outstanding sportswoman, Yukie is also doing well in her academics. She is on the NUS Global Merit Scholarship which is presented to individuals who demonstrate high academic excellence, has excellent co-curricular activities records as well as exhibit good leadership qualities. She admits that it has not been easy juggling school work and sports, and since she is on a scholarship, there is additional pressure to maintain a high CAP. She hopes to excel in both academics and sports, and deferring her studies would allow her to focus all her energy on sailing first before coming back to NUS to concentrate on her studies after the qualifying rounds for the Olympic Games.

Yukie aspires to be an environmentalist and applied for the NUS BES programme due to her love for the outdoors. Being a sailor who has travelled around the world for various competitions allowed her to appreciate nature’s beauty and taught her not to take Mother Nature for granted. When asked about her freshmen year in NUS, Yukie says that her experience had been positive and she looks forward to going for classes with her coursemates who shares her passion and love for the environment. “Each lesson is engaging, mesmerising and sometimes depressing (as the environment is being exploited and abused, in some cases it is irreparable) but we learn to stay positive and hopefully be stewards for the environment and save the Earth,” she said. She spoke of some of her wildlife encounters in Singapore and hopes to be able to strengthen Singapore’s wildlife and green spaces, thereby enhancing our reputation as a garden city. In addition to her Olympic dream, Yukie hopes that she would be able to work on environment conservation and eco-tourism in Southeast Asia countries such as Sabah, Philippines, and Indonesia in future. She has confidence that the BES programme would enhance her critical thinking skills, increase her awareness of the perspective of different stakeholders and enable her to help communities work together with the environment, not at the expense of it.

The first chance to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics comes at the world championship in Aarhus, Denmark starting from July 30 next year.  The duo is excited to embark on their quest towards their Olympic dream and is positive that it’ll become a reality if they stick to their rigorous training plan for the upcoming year. Here at BES, we wish them all the best in their endeavour!

UPDATES

Yukie and her sailing partner Cheryl Teo participated in the SEA Games 2017 held in Kuala Lumpur and obtained a gold medal for the women’s 470 sailing category! Click here to read an article published by The Straits Times regarding their win.

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