At 13, Jodie Lai was the youngest Singaporean to win a Optimist Gold Medal at the 2014 Asian Games.

At that time, “I was very nervous because I didn’t know what the winds would be like the next day.”

“But I just told myself to think positive. I maintained my lead, forgot about the past and just tried my best for the next two races, and I’m very happy to win gold for Singapore.”

“I thought positive,” she said, when asked how she dealt with the challenge of a chasing pack. “If anything happens, I know I tried my best, so I won’t be that upset.”

“I know I tried my best”

At the 2015 and 2017 SEA Games

At the 2015 SEA Games, Jodie continued to do well in the Optimist class, bagging two Silver medals.

However for the 2017 SEA games, Jodie had to transition to the 420 girls event, a double-handed youth class at the 2017 SEA Games, a transition that was “not easy”.

Despite the tough transition, Jodie took home a Silver medal last year.

High stakes for 2018

This year, Jodie will be transitioning to yet another class – the Laser 4.7.

For the upcoming games, the pressure is on for Singapore’s youngest gold medallist.

“At the last Asian Games, I was only 13, I had no expectations then.”

“This year, if I do qualify, I definitely have high expectations of myself.”

When asked how she plans to cope with the stress, Jodie replied,”Joseph Schooling showed us that even a small country like Singapore had a chance to produce an olympic gold medallist.”

“This shows us that no matter where you come from, what age you are, nothing is impossible as long as you have the will to do it.”

When and how did you start sailing?

I started sailing when i was about 8. When I was younger, I was more into music and the arts and I didn’t really have much of an interest in sports. However, I was  surrounded by sailors; my brother was in sailing as his CCA and my form teacher also happened to be the teacher in charge of sailing. She encouraged me to try sailing and she would share with me about how fun of a sport sailing was.

Once, when my brother went training, I tagged along out of curiosity. It just happened that my form teacher also happened to be present and she convinced me to go out to sea to experience sailing the boat. It was scary at first as the whole environment was very new and I was not used to being in the sun for long hours. At that time, I never expected myself to fall in love with sailing. Over time, I started enjoying my time out at sea more; the vast sea and unrestrictive boundaries made me feel free and I love that feeling.

How do you cope with school and competitive training?

Coping with school and training is definitely not easy. My teachers used to describe us as more of part-time students – part-time sailors, than full time students. Personally, I was very fortunate to have supportive friends, teachers, and family members around me. I have amazing friends who would always help me take notes when I was absent from school, teachers who would stay back with me after school to revise concepts, and family members who would stay up late when I was overseas competing just to wait for a text message.

I remember when I was 13, I was absent from school probably ¼ of the whole school year. I missed out a lot at school and I was often lost in class as I had no idea what they were discussing in class. Luckily for me, my fellow teachers and classmates were all very nice and they even sacrificed their own personal time to study with me after school. I recall coming back from my overseas trips worrying about how I was going to catch up on school work, only to find all my notes and work that I had missed organised neatly in a stack with post-its stuck on a few pages to help me understand the notes. It is with this support that I was able to cope with school and competitive training.

 

Read more about Jodie!