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World champ Lee stops sailing to be fighter pilot

SINGAPORE — Rachel Lee, one of Singapore’s top female sailors who won last year’s 420 World Championships, has set her sights on becoming a fighter pilot with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), effectively shelving her dream of competing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Rachel Lee (right) and Cecilia Low, with their coach Zhang Yongqiang in 2012. Photo: Singapore Sailing Federation

Rachel Lee (right) and Cecilia Low, with their coach Zhang Yongqiang in 2012. Photo: Singapore Sailing Federation

SINGAPORE — Rachel Lee, one of Singapore’s top female sailors who won last year’s 420 World Championships, has set her sights on becoming a fighter pilot with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), effectively shelving her dream of competing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

A graduate of the Singapore Sports School, Ms Lee’s achievements in the sport include trophies at the International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA) Team Racing World Championship in 2006 and the 2007 South-east Asian (SEA) Games.

The 20-year-old had enlisted in the SAF in February to commence training as a trainee pilot, and was awarded the SAF Merit Scholarship in September after finishing her service term at the Officer Cadet School.

She is currently based in the United Kingdom, where she is studying for a degree in economics and industrial organisation at the University of Warwick.

In 2010, Ms Lee began a successful partnership with team-mate Cecilia Low in the women’s 420 double-handed dinghy class, and the duo claimed the Republic’s first-ever gold medal — also a first for Asian sailors in the event — at the 2012 World Championships after beating 35 other boats at Lake Neusiedler, Austria.

They were named Team of the Year (Team Event) at the annual Singapore Sports Awards in June this year, ahead of the national women’s table tennis team — bronze medallists at the 2012 London Olympic Games — and the national women’s bowling team.

While the pair had initially planned to compete in the 2016 Olympics, Ms Lee now plans to pursue a different dream. “I had a very successful outing as a national sailor for the past eight years,” she said.

“I love the outdoors very much; and the high level of competition motivates me to excel, both at sports and in my studies. I am contented with my achievements in my sailing career and am now looking forward to moulding my future in the SAF, hopefully as a fighter pilot.”

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