470 sailing pair can't find sponsors for $70k training plan
But 470 pair Yokoyama and Teo can't find sponsors for $70k training plan
The road to the Olympic Games has been anything but smooth sailing for national sailors Yukie Yokoyama and Cheryl Teo.
When they are not out at sea or training in the gym, they are busy reaching out sponsors to back their Tokyo 2020 ambitions.
The 2017 SEA Games women's 470 gold medallists had drafted up a plan that would see them go for overseas training camps and competitions to get to their goal, but finances for the project amounted to a hefty $80,000.
Yokoyama, 21, and Cheryl, 18, raised the $10,000 needed for the first phase of their journey to Tokyo 2020 this year through crowdfunding and support from the Singapore Sailing Federation, who covered the costs of their boat charter, and other sponsors who helped with the expenses for equipment and a few trips.
But the remaining $70,000 required for their preparations has been hard to come by.
Since last month, they have sent out over 30 e-mails to seek corporate sponsors, but their efforts have been unsuccessful.
Their application for the Sports Excellence Scholarship (spexScholarship) at the beginning of the year was rejected, but they received some support earlier this month when Cheryl was awarded $5,000 as a recipient of the Singapore Olympic Foundation (SOF)-Peter Lim scholarship in the Under-18 High Performance Category.
Since embarking on their year-long deferment from school that began last October, they have completed training stints in Okinawa (Japan) and Barcelona (Spain), and participated in the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma (Spain) and their first Sailing World Cup Regatta in Hyeres (France).
The year off has allowed them to dedicate their time towards achieving their goal while recuperating, and they firmly believe that their Olympic dream is within reach.
Their maiden Sailing World Cup, where they finished 25th out of 36 pairs, was nerve-racking but self-assuring for them.
They proved themselves worthy of being in the same flight as many top sailors.
Cheryl, who was midway through her penultimate year of a business and social enterprise course at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said: "We had 12 goals like boat handling and weight gain.
"So far, so good. We're on track with our goals."
With the extra time, they have been able to go to the gym more frequently and increase their competitiveness through weight gain, something that they had struggled with before.
Yokoyama, an environmental studies undergrad at the National University of Singapore, said: "The recovery part gives us time to rest - mentally and physically - and spend time with our family and friends.
"When I was in school, I used to just sail and study and not do anything else but now there's breathing space."
However, while the duo, who are coached by Finnish Olympian Joonas Lindgren, confirmed that they would be returning to school in the next academic year, they are determined not to let that hinder their progress.
Cheryl acknowledged that it would be hard, but said: "We will still do our best to maintain what we have now."
Yokoyama added: "I feel like I'm quite energised from that one year of being a full-time sailor, so hopefully I can channel that energy into school.
"Maybe studying will also help us appreciate training more, so it's not just a boring routine but we have something to balance out also."
For August's Asian Games in Indonesia, the debutantes are confident of a podium finish.
While Olympic qualification remains the main goal, the duo said the Asiad is instrumental to their way there.
Yokoyama said: "It's a good stepping stone because in Asia, we have very good 470 sailors like those from Japan and China, who have been around for very long.
"It's an Olympic class that we qualified through and the Asian Games are a really cool event. But ultimately our goal is to go for the 2020 Olympics."