Eight Bells: Yumiko Shige

Published on December 11th, 2018

Yumiko Shige

Yumiko Shige (JPN), who fought a strong battle with cancer for several years, has sadly succumbed at hospital in Karatsu City early in the morning on December 9 at 53 years.

Yumiko was extremely humble in recognizing her role as a trailblazer for sailing in Japan, making history in 1996 when, with crew Alicia Kinoshita, she won an Olympic silver medal in the 470 women event in Savannah, USA. Their achievement marked the first ever Olympic sailing medal for Japan.

Yumiko and Alicia also competed at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games finishing 5th and at the Sydney 2000 Olympics finishing 12th. Other notable achievements include a silver medal at the 1992 470 World Championship and bronze at the 1995 470 World Championship.

Yumiko said about her success, “A medal is just a reward for the result. It is not a goal. Do not chase the medals. We have to chase the winds. We have to be obedient to nature.”

Yumiko was never one to put herself forward on the front line, preferring to make a significant difference from the background with her inspiring and vibrant personality instantly drawing people to her. Yumiko went on to become a role model for sailing in Japan, turning the brilliance of her Olympic sailing career to make a difference for the next generation.

Yumiko pioneered youth sailing programmes, particularly at her home base of Saga Prefecture Yacht Harbour in Karatsu, developing skills and approaches to sailing that became a benchmark. Yumiko also worked as a coach and team manager, mentoring Japan’s young sailors to compete successfully at events and Championships around the world, and was Chairman of the Japanese 420 National Class Association.

Yumiko was also massively involved in bringing numerous World Championships to Saga Prefecture Yacht Harbour. Hosting the 2015 420 World Championship in Karatsu marked a milestone in paying tribute to Japan’s efforts to grow youth sailing, with Yumiko always there in the background, quietly making the difference.

Yumiko’s passion for sailing had not disappeared. She was trying to recover and looking forward to participating in the Hansa World & International Championships held in Hiroshima, Japan this October but unfortunately her dream did not come true.

Throughout the international sailing scene Yumiko was a friend to many and touched many lives. She will be remembered as one of Japan’s sailing legends, and while her passing leaves a big void, her legacy will live on. Yumiko’s funeral will be held on December 13, 2018.

Source: World Sailing

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