After a year of being stuck in Singapore with no competitions to travel to owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu cannot wait to make her fourth appearance at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, where she is the defending champion in the 50m and 100m backstroke (S2).
Double world record holder Yip, who won a gold and silver in her Paralympics debut in Beijing in 2008, is one of six athletes who have been selected by the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC) to represent Singapore in Tokyo from Aug 24 to Sept 5.
Joining her are world No. 1 para-archer Nur Syahidah Alim, shot-putter Muhammad Diroy Noordin and Games debutants Steve Tee (cycling), Toh Wei Soong and Sophie Soon (both swimming). The Paralympics squad was announced by SNPC in a statement yesterday.
Tee, who is visually impaired, will be competing in the Izu Velodrome with his pilot, former national track cyclist Ang Kee Meng.
Singapore has also secured a team slot in equestrian and the names of the athletes will be announced at a later date. Selection for the Games will continue till July 30.
Yip, 29, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy aged two, told The Straits Times: "I'm very excited. After the postponement last year and the entire Covid-19 experience of staying in Singapore for a long period, we've done everything as well as we could in this situation and I'm really raring to go.
"At the same time I'm taking every day as it comes because from what we've learnt in the past year, sometimes that's the only thing we can do - take everything as it comes and do our best every single day."
Syahidah, who leads the compound women open individual world rankings with 230.8 points, will be competing in her second Paralympics after finishing 13th in Rio five years ago.
"This is a proud moment in my journey as an athlete," said the 35-year-old.
"This would not have been possible without the support of my team. I will continue to train hard, do my best to achieve extraordinary feats and make Singapore proud at the Games."
Toh, 22, who won two gold medals at the 2018 Asian Para Games, said: "This has been a journey eight years in the making and to be able to make my debut at the Paralympic Games is a dream come true. All the blood, sweat and tears have finally paid off.
"I want to do my best for Singapore and hopefully inspire others to start their own impossible."
Chef de mission Shirley Low noted that preparing for the Paralympics has been challenging for the athletes owing to the pandemic. She said: "Our athletes have demonstrated incredible resilience and adaptability to continue training hard.
"We are confident that they will all make Singapore proud. I call on all Singaporeans to come together to cheer our athletes on as one Team Singapore."
While not being able to train and compete overseas has been a setback, Yip is focusing on the positives.
"Everybody across the world is facing these problems, so I just have to adapt to the changes and make the best of them," said Yip, who trains up to 11 times a week and hopes to squeeze in a local training camp before leaving for Tokyo in mid-August.
"In my head, there are many what ifs but I just have to be confident and take everything as it comes and not worry too much because I can't control a lot of things that may happen.
"The only thing I can control is what I can do on the day itself."
SINGAPOREANS BOUND FOR TOKYO PARALYMPICS
YIP PIN XIU
Swimming: 50m backstroke S2, 100m backstroke S2.
NUR SYAHIDAH ALIM
Archery: Compound Open.
MUHAMMAD DIROY NOORDIN
Athletics: Shot put F40.
Cycling: Road 32km time trial; track 4km individual pursuit.
Swimming: 100m breaststroke SB12, 100m butterfly S13.
TOH WEI SOONG
Swimming: 50m freestyle, 50m butterfly, 400m freestyle (all S7).