Rachel Yang stays trim and fit, thanks to pole vaulting. By Ng Wan Ching
Ms Yang says her most prized possession is the silver medal she won at last year’s SEA Games. It is her first medal after 10 years of failure in two previous SEA Games. Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Yang
About Rachel Yang
Ms Yang works as an assistant client and market manager at Deloitte, an auditing and consulting firm. She won Singapore’s first women’s pole vault medal at the 2015 SEA Games when she cleared 3.9m for a silver. Her husband is a lecturer at Republic Polytechnic and they have a three-year-old son.
Q: What is your secret to looking so fabulous?
A: Pole vaulting. It is a physically demanding sport that is a total body workout. That is one reason I continued doing it after giving birth. I am also conscious about my diet and prefer low-fat or no-fat food. My mother-in-law, who takes good care of me, will specially prepare steamed fish for me if she has fried dishes for the rest of the family.
Q: Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?
A: I was overweight in Primary 6. But my teacher didn’t put me in the Trim and Fit club because I was already very active, playing badminton for my school. My grandmother cooked very delicious food and I believe I grew fat from eating too much of it.
Q: What is your diet like?
A: Breakfast: Wholemeal bread with ham and salad, honey lemon drink and fruit. Followed by kopi or teh-c with less sugar.
Lunch: Soup with rice or economy rice with two meat and two vegetable dishes.
Snack: A fruit or some nuts.
Dinner: Steamed rice, steamed fish, stir-fried meat, soup and vegetables. Dessert is fresh fruit.
Supper: A slice of toast or yoghurt with fruit.
Q: What are your indulgences?
A: I love the honey green tea with konnyaku jelly from Koi. I’d get one on our way home from my in-laws’ place every night.
Q: What do you do to relax/how do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?
A: I work full-time, study part-time (MBA), train after work and am also a mother. I try to leave work on time for my training so that I have sufficient training hours. I don’t take work home unless it is very urgent. My company allows us to work from home. That helps a lot with balancing work and time spent with my son.
Q: What are the three most important things in your life?
A: Family, work-life balance and lifelong learning.
Q: What’s your favourite part of your body? And the least favourite?
A: I like my arms and abs. They are toned through pole vaulting. I don’t really like my thighs because they are quite big. Usually my butt and thighs are the first areas to get fat and the fat there is the most difficult to burn. (Exercise Away Those Thunder Thighs!)
Q: How important is it for you to keep up with your fitness routine?
A: I have to be fit in order to get through my pole vault training with quality jumps. I don’t have the luxury of having lots of time to go through every aspect of pole vaulting, such as gymnastics, weights and speed training, during my regular training. Hence, I regard my weekend activities with my family like cycling or even shopping as additional fitness training.
Q: What is the biggest sacrifice you have made in the name of fitness or diet?
A: I gave up fried food 10 years ago. I may have a bite or two when I have cravings or I eat a little and work out after that.
Q: How has your active lifestyle influenced your family and friends?
A: When I returned to competitive pole vaulting at 33 and after having given birth two years earlier, I was in better shape than before. I think that helped people to see that pregnancy, age or even working full-time and studying part-time are not limiting factors when it comes to exercise and keeping fit. There are people who drop me messages to tell me how I have inspired them.
Q: How extensive is your collection of sports-related paraphernalia at home?
A: I have many medals from my school days as I represented my school in badminton, volleyball and track and field. I was also a javelin and discus thrower. I took up pole vaulting only when I was 23 years old. Asics, my official sports apparel sponsor, provides me with four to five pairs of track shoes, two pairs of spiked shoes and clothing each year. I also have ID tags from the major games I have competed in, including Asian and SEA games.
Q: Among them, what is your most prized possession?
A: My silver medal from last year’s SEA Games. It was my first medal after 10 years of failure in two previous SEA Games and Singapore’s first pole vaulting medal in the SEA Games. It was a dream come true to win a medal in front of the home crowd with a new national record, and have my son with me on the podium.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2016, with the headline ‘Trim and fit, thanks to pole vaulting’.