Disabled sports: Para stars Theresa Goh and Yip Pin Xiu part ways with coach

Yip Pin Xiu and coach Mick Massey celebrating in Rio last September after she won the 50m backstroke S2 event to clinch back-to-back golds.
Yip Pin Xiu and coach Mick Massey celebrating in Rio last September after she won the 50m backstroke S2 event to clinch back-to-back golds. PHOTO: REUTERS

Massey leaves after successful Paralympics, Goh and Yip to get into gear soon for APG

National para-swimmers Theresa Goh and Yip Pin Xiu have parted ways with coach Mick Massey, ending a partnership that led to medal glory at the Paralympics last year.

The Straits Times understands that the Briton was not offered a new contract by the Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC), after his contract to coach the duo until last year's Rio Games expired.

Responding to queries from ST, the SDSC said that a search for a new coach for the Paralympic medallists is under way.

"The job was done so I moved on to other projects," said Massey, who coached Goh and Yip for about two years.

The former British Paralympic head coach has turned his focus back to being head of swimming at Dulwich College, an international school in Bukit Batok - a post for which he originally came to Singapore, before being approached to straddle the two coaching jobs.

He said: "I have a fantastic job at Dulwich which grows year on year. I have a big job to do at school the next couple of years. I might consider going back to para-swimming if another country came in with a good project.

Yip Pin Xiu and coach Mick Massey celebrating in Rio last September after she won the 50m backstroke S2 event to clinch back-to-back golds.
Yip Pin Xiu and coach Mick Massey celebrating in Rio last September after she won the 50m backstroke S2 event to clinch back-to-back golds. PHOTO: REUTERS

AWESOME STINT

I had a great time (with the girls)... I'm sure they will find a great coach to lead them into Tokyo. They are two great athletes.

MICK MASSEY, who took Theresa Goh and Yip Pin Xiu to new heights. He has turned his focus back to being head of swimming at Dulwich College, an international school in Bukit Batok.

"I had a great time (with the girls)... I'm sure they will find a great coach to lead them into Tokyo. They are two great athletes."

Goh and Yip, two of Singapore disability sport's highest-profile athletes, achieved breakthroughs under Massey's tutelage.

Yip broke world records at multiple meets, beginning from the Asean Para Games (APG) in 2015 to last year's European Open Championships and the Rio Paralympics, where she won two golds.

Goh, on the other hand, won a bronze at the Paralympics, her first medal in four attempts at the quadrennial Games.

Said Goh, 29: "He has a very scientific approach and I was able to fully trust what he was doing. We had a very good team behind us and my job was just to get into the pool and do what they told me to do."

While Yip admitted their coach-athlete relationship had its ups and downs, she also paid tribute to Massey's leadership.

She said: "We were really lucky (to have had Massey as coach) because he has a lot of experience. He brought us back on track and brought back the fire. We had a really good working relationship. We had a good run. It was a good two years. We learnt a lot from him."

The 25-year-old is due to graduate from the Singapore Management University this semester and revealed that she is mulling over the possibility of training overseas.

She said: "It would be the first time in my life that I can focus fully on training. I want to see what my options are, what I can do to put in 100 per cent.

"Now that it's the start of another four-year cycle (to the next Paralympics), it would be the best time to try other things, if anything."

With the Sept 16-23 APG in Kuala Lumpur on the horizon, the duo are scheduled to get back into full training within the next two months.

SDSC president Kevin Wong said more will be revealed after a strategic plan review concludes in about a fortnight, noting that the association remains open to working with Massey in the future.

He said: "We'll have to strategise and see how we want to move in terms of coaching both the elite and the recreational.

"The key focus will be growing the next batch of athletes. When we see a need or a potential, we will engage (Massey) again. We have a good working relationship."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2017, with the headline 'Para stars part ways with coach'. Print Edition | Subscribe