Swimming: Yip Pin Xiu breaks 50m backstroke world record for second time at Euro Championships

SINGAPORE - National para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu cracked her own world record in the 50m backstroke S2 on Friday (Saturday morning, Singapore time) at the IPC Swimming European Open Championships, shaving time off a mark she had bettered just two days ago.

The 24-year-old clocked 1min 0.64sec in Funchal, Portugal, improving on the 1:01.39 posted during the first half of the 100m event.She was followed by Norway's Ingrid Thunem, who clocked 1:06.53 for a new S1 world record and Alexandra Agafonova of Russia, who was next with 1:06.75.

She told The Straits Times in a phone interview: "I wasn't really expecting the record because the margins of improvement are so small in the 50m. I swam my heart out at this meet and I'm glad I'm done."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong congratulated Yip and her team-mate Theresa Goh for their performances at the championships, in a Facebook post put up on Saturday morning.

Yip Pin Xiu with her 100m backstroke (S2) gold medal at the IPC Swimming European Open Championships in Funchal, Portugal, on May 5, 2016. PHOTO: KANG TZE WEI

He wrote: "Last December, Pin Xiu set a new world record at the Asean Para Games. She has just done it again - twice! She broke her own record for the 50m backstroke (S2) and set another world record for the 100m backstroke (S2). She also set Asian records for the 50m and 100m freestyle (S2).

"Her teammate and good friend Theresa was also in top form, setting a new Asian record in the 100m breaststroke (SB4).

"Our athletes trained very hard to wear national colours at this competition. Pin Xiu and Theresa show that Team Singapore can do great things. Keep the flag flying high!"

This is the Yip's second gold of the meet, having already won the 100m backstroke on Wednesday (Thursday morning, Singapore time) in a world-record time of 2:09.79. That time was more than six seconds faster than the previous mark, smashing the 2:16.31 set by Ukraine's Ganna Ielisavetska in 2014.

Her results make her a favourite for gold - or golds - come the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro this year. She is Singapore's first and only Paralympic champion, having won the 50m backstroke S3 event at the 2008 Beijing Games.