Asean Para Games: Swimmer Yip Pin Xiu's late charge for gold, world mark

Theresa Goh (black cap) hugging her good friend Yip Pin Xiu after the latter's 50m backstroke S5 (S2-S5) win. Goh was third.
Theresa Goh (black cap) hugging her good friend Yip Pin Xiu after the latter's 50m backstroke S5 (S2-S5) win. Goh was third.PHOTO: SPORT SINGAPORE/ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS
Lawrence Tay's 50m back S14 gold was his first after a silver and three bronzes.
Lawrence Tay's 50m back S14 gold was his first after a silver and three bronzes.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Ex-Paralympic champ Yip beats higher-class rivals, Goh's showing also bodes well for Rio

In just over a minute, Singapore swimmer Yip Pin Xiu put in a virtuoso performance which exemplified the spirit of the Asean Para Games.

Swimming against competitors three classes above her in a one-lap, 50m event with little margin for error, Yip, an S2 swimmer, clocked 1min 1.61sec to win the women's 50m backstroke S5 (S2-S5) at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.

In doing so, the 23-year-old not only clinched her first gold of the meet, but also broke the 50m back S2 world record, previously held by China's Feng Yazhu, who swam 1:03.00 at the London Paralympics.

Yip caught up with eventual runner-up Nguyen Thi Den of Vietnam and third-placed Theresa Goh only in the last 5m. "I was very nervous but I guess it was a good kind of anxiety that put me in the zone. I just focused on lengthening my strokes, and went into the race taking it as a competition with myself.

"I'm so happy that it hasn't sunk in yet. I'm very touched and glad that I'm able to do this on home ground," said Yip.

Also in good spirits was her room-mate and fellow Paralympian Goh. The 28-year-old's bid for seven golds from seven events ended when she finished eighth in the 200m individual medley S9 (S5-S9), her first race of the day.

However, she remains Singapore's most successful athlete of these Games with five golds and a bronze. She now has 27 golds from competing in every edition of the biennial meet.

The breaststroke specialist said: "In the medley, I was racing against swimmers from four other classes so I cannot expect the same kind of result as the past few days.

"We're looking forward to the next nine months of training.

"The results here show that we are on track for Rio."

On the Games entering the final day, Goh said: "It's bittersweet. I'm really happy that I don't have to race already but, everything else, I don't really want it to end.

"We really hope the support will continue after the Games."

The pair's coach Mick Massey said their performances at the OCBC Aquatic Centre prime them for a possible medal showing at next year's Paralympics in Rio.

He added: "We've got a fantastic team... everything is in place for Singapore to go to Rio and bring back another gold medal."

Lawrence Tay won Singapore's other gold of the day in the men's 50m back S14, clocking a Games record of 34.52sec. That took the hosts' swimming medal tally to 16 golds, six silvers and 11 bronzes.

He finished ahead of team-mate Han Liang Chou (35.94) and Malaysia's Ting Jing Ping (36.32) for his first gold of the meet.

Said Tay: "It was a surprise because I had swum in the 200m IM earlier. I was also (nervous) because it was the last race. I want to thank my coaches who have worked very hard with me."

The meet drew to a close after five days last night.

In all, 36 Games records fell while a world record and two new Asian marks were set.

Vietnam were top with 19 golds, 22 silvers and 21 bronzes, ahead of Indonesia (17-17-16) and Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2015, with the headline 'LATE CHARGE FOR GOLD, WORLD MARK'. Print Edition | Subscribe