The results sheet simply says that Theresa Goh of Team Singapore received a Bronze medal in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke (SB4) event on Sunday.
But what the results sheet doesn’t show is that for Theresa and those who are closest to her, the colour of the medal counts for nothing. Nor does that piece of paper explain the intense joy that was created by seeing her on the podium after 12 years of chasing such a dream.
TeamSG swimmer Theresa Goh with her Bronze medal. Photo: Sport Singapore
“Words cannot describe how proud we are,” said Theresa’s father Bernard, who along with his wife Rose, was in Rio to witness their daughter’s greatest night.
“This is a medal that has escaped Theresa since her first Paralympics in 2004 in Athens. She has always been so close but this time she really finally captured this Bronze medal. For us it felt like a Gold, we are just so proud,” she said.
Theresa’s parents were in Beijing in 2008 when their daughter narrowly missed out with a fourth-placed finish but they were unable to see her compete in her other Paralympics.
This time some assistance from sponsor BP helped make sure that the family were part of the celebrations outside the Olympic Aquatic Stadium.
“It is really special. What made it really special for us is that we are here and we really want to thank BP for making it possible for us to be here,” said Bernard, who was quick to pay tribute to all those who had helped his daughter realise her dream.
“Everything helps, the training, the whole team, everybody pulling together but ultimately it is her own effort, her perseverance,” he said.
“Like any human, there were ups and downs, times when she wanted to give up, but I think swimming is one of her greatest loves in terms of sport, so she always came back to it,” he said.
TeamSG swimmer Theresa Goh waving to her family and supporters moments after clinching the Bronze in the Women's 100m Breaststroke (SB4). Photo: Sport Singapore
Dr. Teo-Koh Sock Miang, Chairman of the Singapore National Paralympic Council, was also among those who had cheered on Theresa and there was no hiding her delight at seeing one of the Republic’s most established athletes finally get her reward.
“I am just so pleased for her. I am so pleased that after so many years of working hard she is finally seeing the achievement for her efforts. It is a wonderful medal and worth its full weight in gold,” said Dr. Teo-Koh.
“This is a breakthrough for her, she is going to start believing and she is going to go on and do amazing things,” she said.
Theresa’s good friend and teammate Yip Pin Xiu, who won Gold in the Women’s 100m Backstroke (S2) event in Rio was also part of the celebrations and Mick Massey, the experienced British coach who has worked with both swimmers over the past 18 months was delighted to see Theresa rewarded.
“I have had a lot of medals at Paralympic Games, Gold and so on and that ranks right up there with them. Theresa has been to four Paralympic Games, she is 29 years of age and has never been on the podium. That medal in a way, is the making of her, she has that to carry with her for the rest of her life. If I had a part in that then I am really, really over the moon. It’s fantastic,” he said.
TeamSG swimmer Theresa Goh (right) on the podium with Gold medallist Sarah Louise Rung of Norway (center) and Silver medallist Giulia Ghiretti of Italy (left). Photo: Sport Singapore
“We have come from 18 months ago when she was recovering from a shoulder injury and she couldn’t really train for the first three months, so we only really had 15 months. She was swimming 2:10 and ranked 12th in the world. I was asked by Richard Gordon, the Head of High Performance at Sport Singapore if I could help get Theresa into the final at Rio.
Like Dr. Teo-Koh, Mick believes that the best may yet to be to come for Theresa.
“There is no reason why she can’t go on to Tokyo. I don’t know what she is going to do and that is up to her. She is 29 and will be 33, but she is moving forward, she is on an upward curve, we smashed the Asian record today, why would you stop? In this last year, she has gone from 2:10 to 1:54 so why can’t we go sub-1:50?” he said.
“Her application and the way she carried out the work I gave her was unbelievable. I am just over the moon, it is so good for her. It’s incredible. And it is so great for her parents who are such beautiful people,” he said.
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