SINGAPORE - As national para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu swam her way to a second gold medal in the Rio Paralympic Games on Friday morning (Sept 16), she was cheered on by familiar faces thousands of kilometres away in Singapore.
An estimated 500 people, comprising staff, current and ex-students, gathered at Bendemeer Secondary School - Yip is an alumni - to watch the 24-year-old compete in the 50m backstroke S2 final in Brazil.
The school had organised a live screening of Yip's race in the school hall and what an atmosphere it was as the crowd, armed with flags and clappers, cheered loudly each time Yip appeared on screen. Even a 30-minute delay did little to quell the excitement.
Secondary 2 student Steffanie Lim,14, said: "Pin Xiu's race brought about a whole range of emotions and it was a very celebratory moment when she won because she just made history in a huge way.
"It really inspires me to become a more determined person like her. Even with her disability, she's able to push herself to the highest level and it's even more nicer to know an ex-student did Singapore proud."
Added fellow 14-year-old Yusry Ezuldini: "She's just insane. I've been following her races since some time ago because I'm really inspired by her as a Bendemeerian.
"We all were excited to watch her swim and every time she came on screen, it was a natural feeling to just shout to support her."
It was a similarly festive mood at the Singapore Sports Institute at the Sports Hub, where officials and about 25 national athletes had gathered to watch and cheer Yip during a live screening at the Athletes' Lounge. They were joined by Minister for Social and Family Development and Singapore National Olympic Council president Tan Chuan-Jin.
Captain of the Singapore women's dragonboat team, Chua Jia Min, woke up at 4:30am to make the trip from her home in Boon Lay, said: "She trains so hard and all her hard work paid off so we're all very happy for her. She's an inspiration for all of us. She perseveres throughout her entire journey, I'm sure it's not easy for her in training."
Singapore Disabilities Sports Council vice-president Raja Singh, was also in attendance. He praised the swimmers efforts and added: "(Para sports) has been growing and we're riding off the momentum of the 8th Asean Para Games (in Singapore) last year and our athletes, with the help of their coaches and team, have gone the extra mile."