SINGAPORE - Para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu has been crowned the Sportswoman of the Year (Resilience) at the Singapore Disability Sports Awards for the second time on Thursday (Aug 5) night.
Yip, 29, was recognised for her determination shown in local meets in the absence of international meets because of the pandemic. Her first award was in 2019.
She was nominated alongside Nur Aini Mohamad Yasli (para-powerlifting) and Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha (boccia).
Para-cyclist Steve Tee, along with his pilot Ang Kee Meng, took home the Sportsman of the Year (Resilience) gong. The other nominees were Alphonsus Louis Wong (tenpin bowling), Chan Han Siong (shooting), Kalai Vanen (para-powerlifting) and Tay Wei Ming (badminton).
Yip was happy to win her second Sportswoman title and is looking forward to racing in the Tokyo Paralympics after preparing "to the best of our abilities in this situation".
She said: "Apart from performing to the best of my abilities in the pool, I want to also contribute to sports and create an environment for others to follow in my footsteps."
Yip, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy aged two, had a breakthrough year in 2019, when she won two golds at the World Para Swimming Championships and secured Singapore a slot in the 50m and 100m backstroke (S2) events at the Tokyo Paralympics.
But the pandemic kept her grounded in Singapore last year with no international meets. She competed in local competitions and set a season best in the 50m and 100m back (S2) event earlier this year.
The former Nominated Member of Parliament was also recognised for her contributions to the community. She now serves on the World Para Swimming High Support Needs Group, Singapore's National Youth Council and the Safe Sport Commission.
Her coach Mark Chay was awarded the Coach (high performance) of the Year (Resilience) prize.
Yip is preparing for her fourth Paralympics and will defend her 50m and 100m backstroke (S2) titles - she also holds the world record in both events - in Tokyo. The Games are from Aug 24-Sept 5.
Yip also claimed a gold in the 50m back (S3) and silver in the 50m freestyle (S3) at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
Tee, who is visually impaired, started para-cycling in 2017 with pilot and former national cyclist Ang Kee Meng. In tandem para-cycling, a visually-impaired athlete, called the stoker, is paired with a sighted counterpart, or the pilot.
The duo took bronze in the 24.6km individual time trial at the 2017 Asean Para Games in Kuala Lumpur and finished third in the 4,000m individual pursuit (B) at the 2019 Para Asian Track Championships in South Korea.
They will make their Paralympic debut in the 32km time trial (road) and 4km individual pursuit (track) in Tokyo.
Tee was unable to attend the awards ceremony as he is currently training in Wales but said in a press statement that he was honoured to receive the award.
He added: "This journey has taught me the need to trust the process and to stay focused on what I can do to improve. The situation is mostly out of our hands but the onus is on my pilot and I to continue training hard and improving our craft."
Teo-Koh Sock Miang, Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) president, said: "Despite a dearth of competition opportunities this past year, it was all the more important to celebrate the determination, courage and inspiration of our community during these challenging times.
"Sport has shown that it is a societal leveller and one that can be enjoyed by everyone, including persons with disabilities."
Teo-Koh also paid tribute to boccia athlete Desmond Lam and ten-pin bowler Wong who died peacefully last October and in June respectively. A minute of silence was also observed in memory of them.
Guest-of-honour Alvin Tan, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, congratulated all the winners and added: "Let's work together to create more inclusive opportunities for the community to experience the beauty of sport."
This year's awards are a special 'Resilience' edition, with the lack of local and international competitions amid the health pandemic, and celebrate members of the disability sports community for their display of the Paralympic values - courage, determination, inspiration and equality. The event is presented by Haw Par Corporation with $120,000 donated to the SDSC.
Sportsman of the Year (Resilience): Steve Tee (cycling) and athlete competition partner (ACP) Ang Kee Meng
Sportswoman of the Year (Resilience): Yip Pin Xiu (swimming)
Sportsboy of the Year (Resilience): Aloysius Gan (boccia) and ACP Gan Keng Aik
Sportsgirl of the Year (Resilience): Faye Lim (boccia) and ACP Lim Boon Ghee
Team of the Year (Resilience): Women's goalball team (Norliana Mohamed Ajam, Inez Hung, Joan Hung, Christina Aw)
Coach (high performance) of the Year (Resilience): Mark Chay (swimming)
Coach (developmental) of the Year (Resilience): Hansen Bay (goalball)
Community Impact (volunteering): Goh Nigel Mark Jian Huang (powerlifting)
Community Impact (events & initiatives): Goalball Singapore