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Singapore ST Nominee of the Year: Yip Pin Xiu makes waves at Tokyo Games, and at home, Sport News & Top Stories


SINGAPORE – Nothing has stopped swimmer Yip Pin Xiu in 2021.

Not her age and she will be 30 in January. The fact that Tokyo was in its fourth Paralympic Games and 13 years of surpassing itself at the elite level is not an impressive time. Not her self-imposed diet which meant no glass of wine – she likes an occasional one – for an entire year and maybe three servings of fries in 12 months.

Not her illness, Charcot-Marie Tooth, which is a progressive nervous disease and even if you ask her about it, she won’t complain, cry or give out information about what she might not. no longer be able to do.

She’ll just shrug her shoulders and say, “It’s all about perspective. If I want to think it’s hard, I can. But I don’t want to feel sad for myself.”

So she slips from her wheelchair into the water and chases her dreams and loves what she does. Not just the competition, but the practice, the repetition, the pain, the training. And also, she laughs, “afternoon naps.”

Nothing stopped Ms. Yip, not even her rivals this year. She had won a gold and silver medal at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and two gold medals in Rio 2016. And then this year, she again won two back gold medals at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. . This makes her the very definition of excellence, which is a skill demonstrated over time. No athlete in Singapore has ever had such a compelling and consistent record.

That’s enough to nominate her for the Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award and yet Ms. Yip is more than a swimmer. She transcends sport, an athlete whose voice goes beyond the swimming pool.

“In the past, I identified as an athlete,” she explains. “But now I see myself as a representative of other people with disabilities and I see myself as a woman more aware of gender and equality issues.” And she also believes that she represents young people. Laughing on the phone, she said “I think I’m still pretty young.”

Ms. Yip is slim, always polite, and constantly sports a smile, but like her wheelchair, she is made of sturdy materials. When the issue of cash payments to successful athletes arose this year, it did not back down. She didn’t raise the question, but she didn’t back down from the questions.

Olympic athletes received $ 1 million for winning a gold medal, but Paralympic athletes received $ 200,000 for the equivalent feat. When asked by Straits Times reporters about this gap after her two Paralympic gold medals, Ms. Yip was clear: she doesn’t swim for money, but the disparity was glaring.

“At the end of the day,” she said, “there is some inequality there for whatever reasons.”

Ultimately, the cash payout for Paralympians who win gold was increased to $ 400,000. The recognition had come and while Ms. Yip was grateful, she hopes that over the years the gap that still exists with the Olympians will continue to narrow.

It didn’t matter if everyone agreed with her, what was beyond dispute was that she had done something remarkable. She was quick in a pool and thoughtful. Abroad, she ensured that a Singaporean anthem was sung, at home, she hoisted a silent flag of inclusiveness.

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