Team Singapore swimmer, Yip Pin Xiu celebrating her Gold medal win with a new world record . Photo: Sport Singapore
It was a remarkable performance from a remarkable girl.
Team Singapore swimmer Yip Pin Xiu won Gold in the 100m Backstroke S2 event on Friday with a new world record time, as the Paralympic team brought glory at the same arena where Joseph Schooling won his Olympic gold last month.
On just the second day of competition in Rio, the crowd stood for ‘Majulah Singapura’ as Pin Xiu sat proudly upon the podium, beaming in delight at her success - her second Gold after her triumph in the 50m Backstroke (S3) at the Beijing Games eight years ago.
“It felt pretty amazing having the whole crowd cheer for you and seeing a bunch of Singaporeans in the crowd, not just one flag but a couple. It is nice to know that we have done it for Singapore, we have done it for our home,” she said.
The 24-year-old’s time of 2:07.09 at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio, put her well clear of China's Feng Yazhu (2:18.65) and Ukraine's Iryna Sotska (2:21.98), who won Silver and Bronze.
The newly crowned Gold medallist, Pin Xiu on the podium at the victory ceremony. Photo: Sport Singapore
Pin Xiu, who has muscular dystrophy, had already set the world record for the 100m Backstroke (S2) with a time of 2min 9.79sec for the event at the IPC Swimming European Open Championships in Portugal in May.
As Pin Xiu established a clear lead by the 25 metre mark with her smooth strokes and evident determination, victory never looked in doubt.
“I couldn’t see my competitors so I really just went all out, even on the first 50 metres. We have been training for 100m for a while and so I knew that I would have enough back-end speed to come back, even if I went out fast in the first 50,” she said.
Typically, she was quick to pay tribute to those who have helped her achieve her goal in Rio.
“I just want to say that I couldn’t have done this without a lot of support from Singapore and from the support staff here. I am really grateful for that and this one goes out to all of them,” she said.
The swimmer said her success felt a little different than the joy she experienced as 16 year old winning Gold in Beijing when the success, which captured the hearts of the nation, came so quickly to her.
We managed to catch up with Pin Xiu after her record breaking swim and this is what she has to say!
“I was just thinking that (as I came off the podium), the difference is that I really, really worked for it. It is being 24-years-old and been able to feel the tiredness after training every day. I pushed all the way through to get to this point. I wouldn’t say I was expecting it but it was really, really nice.
“When I was in London (and didn’t win) I really thought that I might not be able to do it again. So this is great,” she said.
Qualifying times for the event had indicated that Pin Xiu was a favourite for Gold, especially after gaining the world record in spring - but it was clear that complacency had been kept well away from her approach.
“I think when I broke the world record in May, it showed me that we were on the right track but it also gave me the motivation to not let it rest there.
“From May until now we continued to work really, really hard and we sacrificed so much this year. The support team, some of them have babies and new families and yet they still came with us on training camp, we don’t really have much social time. I am so glad there is something to show for it,” she said.
Now Pin Xiu turns her focus to the 50m Backstroke S2 where she also holds the world record.
“It is nice, I have one more race to go,” she said. “100 metres is my pet event so there is no pressure on for the 50m. There are four days to recover so hopefully I will be ready for the 50m," she said.
Does anyone doubt she will?
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