Swimming: Another world record for para swimmer Yip Pin Xiu

Yip Pin Xiu with her gold medal after winning the 50m back (S2) race at the IPC Swimming European Open Championships. With two backstroke world records, Yip is favourite to win gold at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics.
Yip Pin Xiu with her gold medal after winning the 50m back (S2) race at the IPC Swimming European Open Championships. With two backstroke world records, Yip is favourite to win gold at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics. PHOTO COURTESY OF KANG TZE WEI

Third world record in 6 months in 50m back is result of heavier training ahead of Rio Games

To ensure she was in the best possible form for the International Paralympic Council (IPC) Swimming European Open Championships, Yip Pin Xiu upped her training volume, tapered down for the meet, and stayed off her favourite desserts.

So it was no wonder that, after an "especially exhausting" meet in which she smashed two world records and two Asian marks, the para-swimmer was hungry.

Not only was she eager to finally dig into the jellies she had been eyeing in Funchal, Portugal, but the Singaporean is also hungrier for success at Sept 7-18's Rio Paralympics.

The 24-year-old cracked her own world record in the 50m backstroke (S2) on Friday, clocking 1min 0.64sec to shave time off a mark she had just set two days ago.

Her 1:01.39 first lap in her the 100m back (S2) race, in which she set a new world record by more than six seconds, had been recognised by the IPC as a world mark for the 50m back.

TOTALLY SPENT, BUT TOTALLY WORTH IT

I swam my heart out and I'm so glad I'm done. I feel 10 years older physically.

YIP PIN XIU, Singapore para swimmer, after setting a world record in the .50m backstroke (S2) event at the IPC Swimming European Open Championships.

"I swam my heart out and I'm so glad I'm done. I feel 10 years older physically," she joked with The Sunday Times, after completing the meet with two other Asian records (50m and 100m free).

Yip, who has muscular dystrophy, admitted that she is surprised to be able to lower her 50m back time thrice in the last six months. Still, it is affirmation that her decision to push herself harder in training is bearing fruit.

Yip and coach Mick Massey increased her training volume by about 40 per cent after December's Asean Para Games, where she first clocked a world record in the 50m back race.

Said Yip, still Singapore's only Paralympic champion after winning the 50m back (S3) gold in 2008: "The margins of improvement in the 50m are so small. It's a happy thing, a surprising thing, but also a sigh of relief that all that I've done has not been in vain and there are results to show for it."

But the more others see her as a shoo-in for gold - or golds - as the clock ticks down to the Rio Paralympic Games, the more Yip cautions herself against being too confident.

"Sports is very unpredictable," she said, naming China's Feng Yazhu, who did not compete in this meet, as her stiffest competition.

"I actually feel hungrier to maintain my form - if not to be better. When you don't have something, you work hard to get it and it's okay if you miss. But when you do have it, you want to keep it.

"There's more desire, more motivation, but also more pressure. The prize is still ahead of me."

Yip will return to Singapore for a short break and transition period before starting a new training cycle. A competition in Berlin next month, two training camps in July and an August holding camp in Spain are on the cards in the lead-up to Rio.

Coach Massey is confident that his charge has what it takes to withstand the intensity ahead.

He said: "The key is consistency of training, week in week out. Swimming is a tough sport - you have to work through the pain and be prepared to step up on key sets regardless of mental or physical pain.

"This ability is what differentiates (great) athletes from (good) athletes."

Added Yip: "I will work my heart out these four months and I will leave everything I have out there in every session, and see where it gets me."

For now, though, this golden girl will savour success by satisfying her sweet tooth.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 08, 2016, with the headline 'Yip's hard work pays off'. Print Edition | Subscribe