Joseph Schooling praises feats of para duo Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh

It was their first extended meeting since winning medals at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and Paralympics, but the chemistry among Joseph Schooling, Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh was evident.

Sitting side by side yesterday at the National Museum, where they launched new exhibits by the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA), the trio delighted those present as they teased and praised each other, even jocularly snatching the microphone from one another during a light-hearted question-and-answer segment.

There was also a heartwarming scene when Schooling, who looked tired from his own packed schedule, helped Yip to uncap her water bottle while regular "helper" Goh was answering a question.

The Olympic champion also launched a stout defence of the feats of his Paralympic pals.

Said the 21-year-old: "What they accomplished was phenomenal. I don't think anyone should discredit that just because it's the Paralympics. I think it's stupid (to) think like that.

"They sacrificed just as much, if not more."

The trio also addressed the thorny subject of prize money.

Schooling's Olympic gold will see him net $1 million at the Singapore National Olympic Council's Multi-Million Dollar Award Programme awards ceremony today.

In contrast, under the Singapore National Paralympic Council's Athlete's Achievement Award Programme, each of Yip's two Paralympic golds has a $200,000 award, while Goh's bronze in Rio will earn her $50,000.

Said Goh: "When it comes to prize money, it's always a tough topic because it's not something that's within our control or something that's really important to us.

"It's a bonus and... one day hopefully (having equal prize money) will happen but it's not something we're focused on."

Schooling agreed, adding: "Like Theresa said, we don't go into (training and competing) thinking about the prize money, we go into these things because we want to and we love it."

Yip, who was last to answer the question, said: "We'll leave it to the rest of the people to decide. (Anyway) events like this exhibition are part of inclusion and a big step from where we were previously."

The new exhibits that the trio launched form part of the SSA's Legacy Council exhibition.

On display are medals, Team Singapore uniforms and swimsuits from current and former athletes.

Panels adorned with pictures and quotes help detail Singapore swimming's key milestones from the 1950s to the present age.

They are the work of the SSA Legacy Council, led by former swim star Patricia Chan, who was present yesterday with other aquatic heroes including Joscelin Yeo and Tay Chin Joo.

The exhibition ends on Saturday. Entry is free.

On the importance of showcasing the history of Singapore swimming, Chan said: "(The concept is) you build on the last person, you stand on the shoulders of the ones before you and you just keep going up.

"Look where it took us."


This article was first published on November 24, 2016.
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