2016 Paralympic Games

Paralympics: Yip Pin Xiu will spur more glory

Swimmer lauded all round as gold-winning feat augurs well for more triumphs in Rio

Yip Pin Xiu on her way to clinching gold and shaving 2.7sec off her world record in the 100m backstroke (S2) final at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio.
Yip Pin Xiu on her way to clinching gold and shaving 2.7sec off her world record in the 100m backstroke (S2) final at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Yip Chee Khiong and Margaret Chong did not know their daughter, Yip Pin Xiu, had made history at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro until several hours after her feat.

The 24-year-old Singaporean swimmer had won the 100m backstroke (S2) in a world-record time of 2min 7.09sec yesterday.

Both 61, Yip and Chong were en route to Rio to support their daughter, and learnt of her triumph only after landing in their stopover in Dubai.

Said Chong: "It was always good that she gets better with each race. Getting a gold and in world-record time is a bonus. Her years of training have paid off and we are very happy and proud of her."

Chong and Yip will be at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on Thursday evening (Rio time) to support their daughter in her next event, the 50m backstroke (S2).

In the 100m backstroke (S2), Yip finished ahead of China's Feng Yazhu (2:18.65) and Ukraine's Iryna Sotska (2:21.98) at the same arena to bag Singapore's first medal of the Rio Paralympics, which began on Thursday.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam wrote on Facebook: "I hope Pin Xiu's Gold will be only the first of many pieces of good news we will hear from Rio in the coming week."

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin and Minister for Community, Culture and Youth Grace Fu also congratulated the swimmer on their respective Facebook pages.

Mr Tan, who is also president of Singapore National Olympic Council president, wrote: "Awesome Pinxiu Yip! Gold. Paralympic & World record. 100m backstroke S2. Well done!"

Ms Fu added that a public celebration is in store for the Republic's Paralympians when they return.

Fellow swimmer Joseph Schooling, who won Singapore's first Olympic gold medal last month, offered his congratulations in a Facebook post as well.

Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) president Dr Teo-Koh Sock Miang lauded Yip's feat, saying the swimmer has "blazed the trail for Singapore's para-athletes".

Adding that she hoped Yip's triumph would inspire more disabled persons to pick up sport, Dr Teo-Koh said: "Her spectacular win (re-writing her own world record) will inspire and motivate her fellow athletes to dream big and believe that everything is possible if you are willing to push yourself and train to achieve the goal of a podium finish.

"Pin Xiu's win is also testament that the human spirit can triumph over limitations; and challenge all of us to change our perceptions about what persons with disabilities can and cannot do."



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SDSC vice-president Raja Singh believes disability sports will gain more traction in Singapore following Yip's repeat win. She had clinched her first gold in the 50m backstroke (S3) at the Beijing Games in 2008.

He said: "After the APG (Asean Para Games) there was a slight momentum for para sports - new sports like wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis were introduced, and the respective national disability sports associations as well as ActiveSG have been encouraging people to play sports.

"With Pin Xiu's win, we can certainly expect to see new developments in disability sports, and her win will also spur other athletes to continue training to achieve their goals."

The 55-year-old, a former Paralympian who competed in the 1988 and 1992 editions of the Games, added that he was proud of the 13-strong Paralympic contingent.

"It's a big step to have 13 athletes at the Paralympic Games," he said. "Their achievements will bring a lot to other disabled athletes, who will be motivated to achieve the goals they set."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 11, 2016, with the headline Paralympics: Yip will spur more glory. Subscribe