A year of record-breaking feats for Singapore para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu

Swimming has changed Yip Pin Xiu's life, transforming her from a shy and insecure girl into a poised and outgoing woman. But it is also fair to say she has changed the face of para swimming, with her superhuman feats in the water.
Singapore swimmer Yip Pin Xiu with her gold medal.
Singapore swimmer Yip Pin Xiu with her gold medal. PHOTO: SINGAPORE NATIONAL PARALYMPIC COUNCIL/FACEBOOK
Yip in training during her preparations for the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
Yip in training during her preparations for the 2016 Rio Paralympics. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - National swimmer Yip Pin Xiu made history on Saturday morning (Sept 10, Singapore time) when she clocked a world record 2min 7.09sec to win the 100m backstroke (S2) final at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

She finished ahead of China's Feng Yazhu (2:18.65) and Ukraine's Iryna Sotska (2:21.98) at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium to clinch Singapore's first medal of the Rio Paralympics, which began on Thursday.

Born with muscular dystrophy, a condition which causes her muscles to gradually lose their function, the 24-year-old remains Singapore's first and only Paralympic gold medallist, after winning her maiden gold at the 2008 Games in the 50m backstroke (S3). There, she also bagged a silver in the 50m (S3).

The Singapore Management University student, who had deferred her studies to focus on training for the Rio Games, has enjoyed a record-breaking year.

She set world records in the 50m and 100m (S2) backstroke at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Swimming European Open Championships in Funchal, Portugal, in May.

 
 

At the meet, which was the last major competition before the Rio Games, Yip won the 100m backstroke (S2) gold in 2:09.79, smashing Ukranian Ganna Ielisavetska's previous world mark of 2:16.31 which was set in 2014.

Yip had previously set a new world record of 1:01.61 for the 50m backstroke (S2) at last December's Asean Para Games, and she improved on that time twice at the European Open, clocking 1:01.39 and 1:00.64 in the heats and finals respectively.

On top of that, she also set two Asian records in Portugal. Her time of 1:03.82 in the 50m freestyle (S2) final not only won her a silver medal, but it was also faster than the previous Asian mark of 1:05.47, set by China's Feng in Sochi, Russia, last year.

Yip was fifth in the 100m freestyle (S3) final in Portugal, but her 2:15.68 effort broke Feng's Asian-record time of 2:17.15, also set in Russia last year.

Yip's Paralympic campaign will continue on Friday (Sept 16, 6.52am, Singapore time) in the 50m backstroke (S2) event.