Naval Communicator Competes for Canada
Sweat dripping from the brow. Heart racing like a ship’s engine at full ahead. Raw emotion kept in check by the need to focus on the task at hand. Many of us have felt this kind of tension and excitement on exercise or on deployment, but few members of the CAF have felt all of this range of emotions while representing both their fellow service members and the entire nation at one of the world’s largest sporting events.
So it was for Ordinary Seaman (OS) Yvette Yong, fighting on behalf of her country at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. OS Yong is a native Vancouverite and member of the RCN. A Naval Communicator by trade serving with HMCS York in Toronto, she competed in the taekwondo competition in front of family, friends, fellow sailors, and thousands of Canadians who packed the sell-out crowd at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.
OS Yong entered the competition ranked first in the world and tenth in the Olympic World Ranking, losing a heart breaking bronze medal match that was tied up until the last few seconds. “I couldn’t have asked for any better,” said OS Yong. “In all my 16 years in taekwondo, I really felt like I was supported that day by every single person, and that’s all I needed.”
A sea of white uniforms dotted the crowd in support of OS Yong that day, and word that RCN members were in the crowd reached her even before she stepped off the athletes ’ bus. “People were already talking before I got off the bus because a few of the sailors were outside, and I felt so proud,” said OS Yong. “It gave me an opportunity to speak about the military and the Navy in particular that day, and with a lot of friends, coaches and everyday Canadians who wouldn’t normally get to learn about the military. I just kept telling them these are my people,” she added.
OS Yong didn’t have long to recover from her competition; she was on a flight to Colombia to compete shortly thereafter, where she won a silver medal. Her next match will take place within a few weeks in Russia – one of four Olympic Grand Prix qualifying events she will take part in over the next year during the lead up to Rio. Her goal is to earn a spot in the top six in the hopes of earning a direct bye to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Asked if she was excited about competing in Brazil, OS Yong noted that she won gold in the 2011 Military World Games in Rio de Janeiro, and was also named tournament MVP. “It was one of my best competitions to-date,” she stated. OS Yong is excited to represent the CAF once again at the 2015 Military World Games in Korea in October. With her solid work ethic and commitment to service, the support from her fellow service members comes as no surprise. “I’m so proud to represent the Canadian Armed Forces in uniform and through sport,” said the athlete. Noting the dozens of sailors who attended to support her, the feelings are certainly mutual.