Yip Pin Xiu was crowned the Sportswoman of the Year at the Singapore Disability Sports Awards, beating fellow Paralympian Laurentia Tan and para-bowler Diane Neo to the title yesterday.
The swimmer welcomed the awards' return - last held in 2008 - and said: "It's a good thing to continue. First, to recognise the athletes and also for people to start to come together to give athletes more support, whether it's in terms of volunteering or corporate sponsorships."
Muhammad Diroy Noordin was named the Sportsman of the Year. Last year, he claimed a silver and bronze at the Nottwil World Para Athletics Grand Prix in the men's javelin and shot put multiclass events. At last year's Asean Para Games, he was fourth in the F40 men's shot put.
The Sportswoman's award saw an intriguing contest between Yip, 27, and Tan, 40. The former, who has muscular dystrophy, was recognised for beating competition from higher-class swimmers at last year's Asian Para Games to clinch a gold in the S4 (S1-4) women's 50m backstroke and two bronzes in the 50m and 100m freestyle events.
Last September, she became the youngest Nominated Member of Parliament and has been a vocal advocate for the inclusion of para-athletes in sports.
Tan, herself a Paralympic medallist, had been nominated for winning a silver in the individual championship Grade I event at the prestigious Federation Equestre Internationale's (FEI) World Equestrian Games and reaching fourth in the FEI Para Dressage Ranking last year. Outside of sport, she is also an advocate for mental health and audiovisibility (a platform for deaf artists to showcase their talents).
Ironically, the last time the awards ceremony was held, Yip had been named the Sportsgirl of the Year. Then she made history by becoming Singapore's first Paralympic champion in 2008 in Beijing after winning the 50m backstroke S3. Since then, she has won another two golds in the 100m back S2 and 50m S2 at the 2016 edition in Rio.
Yip was one of 10 award recipients at the Carlton Hotel yesterday.
SPORTSMAN Muhammad Diroy Noordin (Athletics)
SPORTSWOMAN Yip Pin Xiu (Swimming)
SPORTSBOY Toh Wei Soong (Swimming)
SPORTSGIRL Maisarah Hassan (Athletics)
TEAM Boccia BC3 Pairs (Faye Lim, Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha, Toh Sze Ning)
COACH (HIGH PERFORMANCE) Alex Ang Yock Seng (Swimming)
COACH (DEVELOPMENT) Hansen Bay (Goalball)
COMMUNITY IMPACT (EVENTS & INITIATIVES) Amputee Support Group
COMMUNITY IMPACT (VOLUNTEERING) Wendy Choh
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT Frankie Thanapal Sinniah
Another swimmer, Toh Wei Soong, 20, was also feted for his achievements at last year's Asian Para Games. He was named Sportsboy of the Year, having won bronze in the S7 50m freestyle at last year's Commonwealth Games and gold in the S7 50m and 100m freestyle at the Asian Para Games.
A special Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Taufik Abdullah, son of the late Frankie Thanapal Sinniah, in recognition of the latter's efforts in championing disability sports.
The ceremony was supported by Haw Par Corporation and saw A.K. Han, executive director of Haw Par Corporation, present a $120,000 cheque to Singapore Disability Sports Council president Kevin Wong. The donation will support Boccia training and competitions, and a bursary to help persons with disabilities from low-income backgrounds to pursue sports.
The guest of honour, Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu said: "Sport teaches us that we can give our best, whatever our situation and in spite of the obstacles that we face - and that our best can make a difference to those around us, to our communities, and ultimately to Singapore.
"I hope that all of us can draw strength and inspiration from these role models, and also encourage and support one another along the way."