RIO DE JANEIRO – Singapore para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu broke the world record to win gold in the 100m backstroke S2 event on Saturday (September 10) morning (Singapore time). This is Singapore’s first medal at the Rio Paralympics, which began on Thursday. Yip won out of a field of six swimmers. 

Gold medal and new world record for Singapore swimmer Yip Pin Xiu MEDAL
Image: The Straits Times

The 24-year-old clocked 2min 7.09sec at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio, faster than China’s Feng Yazhu (2min 18.65sec) and Ukraine’s Iryna Sotska (2min 21.98sec), who won silver and bronze respectively.

WATCH THE RECORD BREAKING SWIM!

Yip also broke the world record in the 50m backstroke with her split timing of 59.38s in the same race. Recounting her record-breaking swim to The Straits Times, Yip said: “I was dying during the race, trying my hardest to pull (my hands). I couldn’t really see who was beside me. It was really just a lot of mental strength to go my fastest ever and to compete against myself and my previous timings. When I touched the wall, the first thing I saw was the Singaporean crowd jumping and at this moment, I knew I got first.”

Gold medal and new world record for Singapore swimmer Yip Pin Xiu SWIMMING
Image: The Straits Times

In a Facebook post on Saturday morning, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said Singapore was “so proud” of her.  “When I met Pin Xiu during her training in June, she was still very modest about her chances, but told me she will do her best. She certainly did her best today,” Dr Tan wrote.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong congratulated the swimmer in a Facebook post. “Pin Xiu, you have made Singapore very proud today,” he wrote. Yip’s fellow swimmer Joseph Schooling, who last month made history by becoming Singapore’s first Olympic gold medallist, also congratulated her on his Facebook page.

Yip, who has muscular dystrophy, held the world record for the 100m backstroke (S2) going into the final. She had clocked 2min 9.79sec for the event at the International Paralympic Committee Swimming European Open Championships in Funchal, Portugal in May this year.

Her new world record that powered her to this win in Rio sees her repeating her golden feat at her maiden Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2008 (when she won the the 50m backstroke in the S3 category). In 2008, her performances ignited a debate about cash prizes for para athletes, which led to the rewards being doubled eventually.

It was in that same year, 2008, that Yip was awarded the Her World Young Woman Achiever award. Yip was joint winner with fellow paralympian equestrian competitor Laurentia Tan who competed at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and is also competing at Rio. Goh Soo Khim, Singapore’s doyenne of dance, was the 2008 Her World Woman of the Year.

Congratulations to Yip Pin Xiu!

If you’re looking for inspiration, check out our stories about the HER WORLD WOMEN OF THE YEAR and YOUNG WOMEN ACHIEVERS, and discover this year’s winners: Meet your Her World Woman of the Year and Young Woman Achiever 2016!

This story was first published on www.straitstimes.com