Yip makes history

Yip makes history
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong(left) handing over a token to Yip Pin Xiu to mark her induction into the Hall of Fame.

She's a swimmer with a Paralympic gold and, last night, Yip Pin Xiu broke new ground when she became the first para-athlete to be inducted into Singapore sport's Hall of Fame.

Along with table tennis greats Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu, Yip, 24, was added to the list of 49 athletes in the elite group at the Sports Hub's OCBC Square.

Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, Yip competed in the S3 category at the 2008 Games in Beijing and won Singapore's first Paralympic gold medal in the 50m backstroke, setting a world record along the way.

She also claimed the silver in the 50m freestyle event, setting a world record in the heats. Para-athletes have achieved little fame in Singapore compared to their able-bodied counterparts, but Yip believes the winds are changing.

She said: "Being para-athletes, we train and work as hard (as able-bodied athletes), so it's very nice to be recognised by Singapore for our achievements.

"When I first started in competitive sports 11 years ago, para-athletes were not at an equal level with the able-bodied athletes.

"But now, the recognition for para-athletes is definitely growing. Hopefully, in the next few years, we'll see more para-athletes inducted."

Chairman of the Hall of Fame committee, Richard Seow, told The New Paper that Yip was chosen based on her own merits as an athlete.

Seow, who is also the chairman of Sport Singapore, said: "The standards that we have set for the Hall of Fame are very high, and Pin Xiu has demonstrated her entry qualifications by what she's done at the Paralympics Games in setting world records and winning gold medals. She has distinguished herself.

"It's well-deserved, I don't think she got in because she's a para-athlete, but because of her standing in the world."

Table tennis duo Feng and Wang were integral members of the Singapore women's team that won silver at the 2008 Beijing Games, ending Singapore's 48-year Olympic medal drought.

STEPPING UP

Wang, who has retired from competitive sport, told TNP of her hopes to see the new generation of Singapore paddlers perform on the world stage.

"If they want to go to the Olympics, it's a long road to travel. Many countries have good and young players now, they aren't just all in one country," she said.

"It's difficult to say if they can make it to that level, but I hope all of them will."

Feng will lead a formidable team of table tennis players for the upcoming South-east Asia Games on home soil next month.

Singapore have dominated the sport over the years in the biennial Games, and a confident Wang said: "The pressure on them for this SEA Games shouldn't be too much to handle. They have great athletes like (Feng) Tianwei leading the way for them."


This article was first published on May 13, 2015.
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