Paralympics: Yip, Goh's medal experiences outweigh debate on equal monetary rewards

Para-swimmers Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh pose with their medals after landing at Changi International Airport on Sept 21, 2016.
Para-swimmers Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh pose with their medals after landing at Changi International Airport on Sept 21, 2016. ST PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Scant hours have passed since they landed in Singapore on Wednesday morning (Sept  21) but Paralympic medallists Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh attended a press conference and addressed the debate on whether Olympians should receive the same monetary rewards as their Paralympic counterparts.

Speaking to the media at the Singapore Sports Institute, Goh said: "The (prize money) is not something we swim for. If it were, I'd have stopped swimming long ago.

"If it (equal prize money) comes, it comes.

"It's nice to have. I mean I won't complain. But it's not really our priority and (we) will leave it to (Singapore National Paralympic Council). What we want is equality but it doesn't have to be about that (the money)."

Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling was awarded S$1 million for his triumph in Rio, while a Paralympic gold medal warrants only S$200,000.

More concerned about their feats in Brazil than about monetary issues, the two women are still in disbelief about what they achieved in the Games and how far they have come.

Goh said: "I'm still waiting for someone to pinch me and wake me up... I still can't believe it's happening.

"Honestly, the journey was quite tough. Some training sessions you feel like you could die. But when you look at it (after everything), I feel like I can do it again because it's worth it."

 
 

Yip also added: "It hasn't really sunk in yet. When I reached the Sports Hub I was still thinking if I (have to) go training later."

Also reflecting on her last Games outing four years ago in London, where she finished fourth in two events, Yip said: "(It's) all part of the process, I wouldn't say it's a year I'm particularly disappointed (in). After that I regained the fire and motivation to train harder and here I am today."

The bulk of the 13-strong Paralympic contingent returned early on Wednesday morning and were welcomed by about 200 supporters at Changi Airport.

Among those present at Terminal 3 before dawn to welcome them were Singapore National Olympic Council president Tan Chuan-Jin, Singapore Swimming Association president Lee Kok Choy and the para-athletes' family members.

On Saturday, the Paralympians will be driven in a convoy of cars from ActiveSG Sengkang Sports Centre at 9am, making a pit stop at the National Library Building in Victoria Street, before finishing at VivoCity at 2pm.The plan is a tentative one and is subject to approval from the Land Transport Authority.

Schooling was also feted with an open-top bus parade from Marine Parade to Raffles City last month.