Yip becomes first Paralympian Sports Hall of Famer

It was a historic win for Singapore and a seven-year-old memory that still gives para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu goose bumps, even as she was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame yesterday.

In Beijing in 2008, she not only won the country's first Paralympic gold medal, but also set a world record in the 50m backstroke (S3 category). She also won a silver in the 50m freestyle (S3).

For her achievements, she was one of three athletes inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame yesterday, alongside table tennis Olympians Feng Tianwei, 29, and Wang Yuegu, 35.

"Just (thinking back on) that day gave me goose bumps. It was a very emotional day," said Yip, 23, who was born with muscular dystrophy.

"To hear the National Anthem played in the (Beijing National Aquatics Centre), it's a memory I will never forget and it's something I hope to recreate again."

Despite being the first para-athlete to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, she remained humble, saying: "There are a lot more pioneers before me... I don't consider myself the leader (for all para-athletes)."

Feng and Wang were recognised for their achievements, which included clinching the country's first world table tennis championship in 2010, when Singapore beat China 3-1 in the final.

Feng played a vital role, winning both her matches, while Wang scored the second point that put Singapore 2-0 up. Another member of the quintet who featured in the "Miracle of Moscow", Li Jiawei, was among 10 athletes last inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003.

Feng, Wang and Li also took a team silver in Beijing - the Republic's first Olympic medal in 48 years.

Feng, who will be leading the table tennis team in the upcoming SEA Games and hopes to win gold in all her three events, said: "I feel truly humbled and honoured to be able to join the ranks of inspirational athletes who have put Singapore on the world map for sport and I thank Singapore for giving me the opportunity to live my passion.

"2015 is going to be a special year for Singapore... I hope to be able to present Singapore with a special birthday gift by doing well at the upcoming Games."

The trio join the ranks of 49 athletes who have been inducted since the Hall of Fame was set up in 1985, including the late four-time champion of badminton's All England Open Wong Peng Soon and football legend Fandi Ahmad.

Among the considerations for yesterday's induction are either a medal at the Olympics or a gold at the Asian Games or Commonwealth Games; at least a four-star rating and a gold medal at any world championships; and if the athlete is considered a sports icon in the local community.


This article was first published on May 13, 2015.
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