With the victory, Yip Pin Xiu has retained the two titles she won at Rio 2016. Credit: Sport Singapore

Swimmer Yip Pin Xiu won her second gold of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, cruising to victory in the S2 50m backstroke final on Thursday (Sept 2).

The defending champion touched the wall in 1min 2.04sec at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

Miyuki Yamada of Japan finished second in 1:06.98 while China’s Feng Yazhu took the bronze in 1:11.55.

Going into the final, Yip was the fastest qualifier out of nine swimmers, clocking 1:03.61 earlier in the heats.

With the victory, Yip, 29, has retained the two titles she won at Rio 2016, having also won the S2 100m backstroke last week.

Yip also holds the world records in both events, which she achieved at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

Yip, who won Singapore’s first Paralympics gold medal at Beijing 2008, was overjoyed at the result, adding the experience of having a week between races at Rio 2016 helped as then, her second race “was a bit tougher”.

Reflecting on her campaign, she told The Straits Times at the mixed zone: “I know it may seem that it’s easy to me, but I think that even leading up to it, it is never easy. It is never a confirmed gold medal or a confirmed first placing, and it’s a lot of hard work, and to come up with this final result, it’s truly amazing for me.

“It’s been a rough two years, but we really adapted to the new normal, travelling competitions, training camps are a main part of an athlete’s routine but with all of these cancelled we had to do new things.

“So I think that we managed to adapt fast, adapt well. But of course, after this it is back to the drawing block and I’m thinking how to be even better, even faster, for Paris.”

On her consistency, Yip told the Olympic Information Service: “It’s difficult and at the end of the day, it’s not only how much you put in but also how much your competitors put in.

“What we can do is make sure we’re consistent and make sure we’ve done everything we can to be the best high performance athlete I want to be. At the end of the day, I have to hold myself responsible.”

While she is not sure of her plans after Tokyo yet, she will definitely be celebrating on Thursday night. Beyond that, she hopes to set up a swim school at home by the end of the year.

“I think it’s been hard to plan anything with the pandemic. So I’ve been living things day by day, but I’ll go back and reflect on it and for now I think we’re just gonna celebrate this win,” said Yip.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong took to social media to congratulate her, hailing her as an amazing athlete and person.

He wrote: “5 Gold Medals on the most competitive of international arenas. There are 13 years between her Gold medals. To be at the top of her game, consistently, 13 years apart, shows us just how special she is, as an athlete, in any sport and on any platform.

“On top of this, outside the pool, she has given so much more to society, in our community and in simple day to day encounters. She made invaluable contributions as my Parliamentary colleague some years ago, raising points and suggestions with clarity and conviction. PX is also a nurturing role model, for our younger athletes, who look up to her with pride and for inspiration.

“Thanks PX, for being so dedicated, so focused on what you want to achieve, so amazing in the pool and outside, and for being so absolutely honoured to represent Singapore. We are so incredibly proud of you, and in absolute awe!”

This article was first published in The Straits Times.