Paralympic gold winner Yip Pin Xiu: 'We can achieve great things'
Para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu wins Paralympic gold medal by breaking world record
Just 28 days after Joseph Schooling won Singapore's first Olympic gold medal at the Olympics Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, the Majulah Singapura reverberated around the venue once again yesterday morning (Singapore time).
This time, it was para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu's turn to fly the Republic's flag high at the Paralympics.
The 24-year-old struck gold in the 100m backstroke S2 final in world-record time- her second gold following her triumph in the 50m backstroke S2 at the Beijing Games in 2008.
Much like how Schooling outclassed Michael Phelps and Chad le Clos in the 100m butterfly final nearly a month ago, Yip left the five other swimmers trailing in her wake with her time of 2min 7.09sec.
She was more than 10 seconds faster than China's silver medallist, Feng Yazhu (2:18.65).
And while Schooling clocked a new Olympic record of 50.39sec, Yip shaved 0.70sec off her previous best in May in Portugal.
She also holds the world record in the 50m backstroke S2.
Yip, who was born with muscular dystrophy, told The New Paper on Sunday that she was inspired by Schooling's win.
"It was really nice to see Singapore win its first Olympic gold medal, after so many people trying for so many years," she said.
"And I really liked how it (Schooling's win) united the nation.
"So I am hoping this Paralympic gold medal will be able to do the same. That is where the magic in sports lies."
When asked if she had a message for Singaporeans, Yip added: "The message is: You should always try.
"As long as we set our hearts and minds to try something, what we can achieve is limitless.
"Even though we are a really small country, we can do great things."
Indeed, Yip proved that yesterday morning.
Her condition gradually causes her muscles to lose mass and weaken, but she has grown from strength to strength since her first Paralympic success eight years ago.
Her latest win is all the more remarkable given that she took a year off competitive swimming after the Beijing Games to focus on her studies - she is a final-year Singapore Management University social sciences undergraduate.
Yip reduced her training regime, which saw a decline in her times, and made her comeback only in late 2010.
She qualified for the 2012 London Paralympics after a year of training but finished fourth in both her events.
Determined to make a big splash in Rio, she deferred her studies this year to focus on training and has travelled to Europe five times and Australia once to train or compete.
Her victory yesterday was just reward for her sacrifices.
"I was 16 the first time I won a Paralympic gold medal," Yip said.
"It really feels phenomenal to be able to do it again eight years later.
"After a few years without (top-level) training, athletes like me kind of hit a plateau.
"So to be able to still get a personal best, there are no words to describe it... I am beyond happy."
For her lung-bursting effort, Yip will receive $200,000 for her gold medal under the Athletes Achievement Awards scheme, which is driven by the Singapore National Paralympic Council.
Yip listed the people she wanted to thank, from her family - who are en route to Brazil to support her - to sponsors like Speedo and MindChamps, to the support staff in Rio.
"The list is endless," said Yip, whose next event is the 50m backstroke S2 final on Friday morning.
"I can't really name just one person who has given me support... I think it is the support of everybody from Singapore.
"Like they say, it takes a village... And my entire village is my Singapore kampung.
"To be able to get so far, I could not have possibly done it on my own.
"Everybody who has supported us (Yip and other para-swimmer Theresa Goh) all the way, even just giving us kind words or being aware of us, has really helped spur me on."