Dynamic duo gets Singapore off to good Para Games start

Goh and Yip get Singapore off to good Para Games start as hosts do well in the pool

Theresa Goh wins Singapore's first gold at the Asean Para Games, finishing first in the 100m freestyle S5 (S1-S5) with a time of 1min 45.51sec.
Theresa Goh wins Singapore's first gold at the Asean Para Games, finishing first in the 100m freestyle S5 (S1-S5) with a time of 1min 45.51sec.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

They train together, are bunking together, and ate tuna and crackers for breakfast in their room together so that they could get added rest ahead of their first event.

So it did not come as much of a surprise when swimmers Theresa Goh and Yip Pin Xiu delivered Singapore's first medals of the Asean Para Games - together.

At just after 9am yesterday, Goh clinched the Republic's first gold of the biennial meet, finishing first in the 100m freestyle S5 (S1-S5) with a time of 1min 45.51sec.

But perhaps equally euphoric for her was seeing fellow Paralympian Yip bag silver 26.35sec later at the 3,000-seat OCBC Aquatic Centre.

After all, the odds were against Yip, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, a disease which gradually weakens muscles, and competes in the S2 category.

The lower the number, the more severe the impairment.

With a laugh, Goh, who was born with spina bifida, recalled: "When I touched (the wall), I was wondering who came in second, and when I turned to look, I thought 'Oh my god, it's Pin Xiu!' It's quite a surprise but I'm very happy for her."

On her gold, the 28-year-old, who is entered in seven events, said: "I'm very honoured. Winning any medal for Singapore is already a great honour; to win the first (gold) is a bonus.

"I'm really proud. Today passed by really quickly... but it has been nothing short of awesome."

Yip, who won Singapore's first Paralympic gold in 2008, said: "I wasn't expecting to win anything because it was an S5 event. The race went all right and I'm looking forward to my next event."

The duo also hailed the home support, as they cut through the water to chants of "TG" and "Pin Xiu" reverberating throughout the arena.

Also in attendance were Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu and Singapore Disability Sports Council president Dr Teo- Koh Sock Miang.

Said Yip: "Normally, at other competitions, I'd be very afraid (before the race) but this time I just felt very calm - like I got this.

"I did not imagine it to be this heartwarming. I just feel like giving everybody a hug now. I feel so grateful for everything, and for everybody coming down to support us."

Ms Fu, who presented the medals to the duo, said: "Now it's really for Singaporeans to come and support them because these athletes have worked very hard and they would really like to show Singaporeans what they can do. Those who have seen (the athletes in action) will know how inspiring these athletes are, and I hope they can share these with their friends... "

Goh was not done yet, as she bagged her second gold of the meet in the evening session, bringing Singapore's first-day total at the pool to four golds.

The hosts, who also have one silver and one bronze, are fifth in the swimming table behind Vietnam (five golds, seven silvers and seven bronzes), Thailand (five golds, four silvers and seven bronzes), Indonesia (four golds, four silvers, and five bronzes) and Myanmar (four golds, two silvers and one bronze).

The former world record-holder won her pet event - the 100m breaststroke SB4 - in a Games record time of 2:02.02, ahead of Vietnam's Danh Thi My Thanh (2:44.02) and Thailand's Pornpimon Sutthichittanon (3:01.20).

She said: "This time is the fastest since 2008.This past year of training has been really tough and it's all paying off."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline 'DYNAMIC DUO STRIKE FIRST'. Subscribe