Yip Pin Xiu ( ), born 1992)
is a Singaporean backstroke swimmer.
She has muscular dystrophy
and competes in the
physically impaired. Since 2005, she has won medals in
international competitions such as the World Wheelchair and Amputee
Paralympic Swimming Championships
German Paralympic Swimming Championships
. At the 2008 Summer Paralympics
, she won a
gold medal in the 50 metres backstroke and a silver medal in
the 50 metres freestyle
in both events. Hence she was conferred a state medal,
the Meritorious Service
. Her achievements contributed to public debate about the
treatment and recognition of disabled athletes in Singapore.
Early years and personal life
Yip was born with muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder
that slowly breaks down
the muscles, and a nerve condition that affects eyesight. When she
was five, she started swimming to improve her health and strengthen
her muscles. Nevertheless, by the age of eleven, she had lost her
ability to walk and had to use a wheelchair. The youngest of three
children in her family, she studied in Ai Tong Primary School
and Bendemeer Secondary School
Yip started swimming competitively when she was twelve years old.
After losing her ability to kick, Yip switched from the front crawl
to the backstroke and was
reclassified from the S5 to the S3 category (lower numbers indicate
more severe disabilities). Her coach is former Singaporean Olympic
swimmer Ang Peng Siong
, while fellow
Paralympic swimmer Theresa Goh
close friend and role model. Besides competitive swimming, Yip has
participated in events to raise awareness of disabled sports, such
as the Interschool Swimming Meets and Montfort
Secondary School Track and Field Meet 2007.
After successes in national championships, Yip participated in the
2005, winning two gold medals. Her first
international competition was the World Wheelchair and Amputee
Games 2005, where she obtained two gold medals and a bronze. She
then received four gold medals at the DSE Long Course Swimming
in 2006. In 2007, she won three gold medals at
the Japan Paralympic Swimming Championships and four gold medals at
the World Wheelchair and Amputee Games.
At the 4th ASEAN ParaGames
finished first in the women's 150 metres individual medley
, clocking 4 minutes
56.34 seconds. She set a world record time of 1 minute
00.80 seconds in the 50 metres backstroke at the US
Paralympic swimming trials. The 22nd International German
Paralympic Swimming Championships saw her set a world record of
2 minutes 10.09 seconds in the 100 metres backstroke
heats; in the finals, she was awarded the gold medal with a time of
2 minutes 08.09 seconds, bettering her own world
Yip started her 2008 Summer Paralympic
campaign by breaking another world record, clocking
57.04 seconds in the women's 50 metres freestyle heats.
However, she was narrowly beaten by Mexican swimmer Patricia Valle
in the finals, clinching a
silver medal with a time of 57.43 seconds. In the women's
50 metres backstroke heats, she posted a time of
57.92 seconds, taking two seconds off her own world record.
She then swam the women's 50 metres backstroke finals in a
time of 58.75 seconds to win the gold medal. After she
returned to Singapore, the president conferred Yip a state medal,
the Meritorious Service Medal
The success of Yip and Laurentia Tan
who won two bronze medals in equestrian
events, sparked public debate about
the treatment and recognition of disabled athletes in Singapore.
Letters to The Straits
criticised the poor coverage of the Paralympics.
Many Singaporeans also commented about the disparity of the cash
awards handed out by the government: S$
1,000,000 for an Olympic gold and
S$100,000 for a Paralympic gold. When the issues were raised in
Parliament, MCYS parliamentary
secretary Teo Ser Luck
study plans to give disabled athletes greater support and to
include them in sporting programmes such as Project 0812, a
training programme for top Singaporean sportspeople. Two months
later, the cash rewards for Paralympic medals were doubled and
funding for the Singapore National Paralympic Council was
- " 新加坡16岁小将叶品秀：理想决不萎缩", People's Daily, 17
September 2008, retrieved 1 January 2009.
- Profile - Yip Pin Xiu, McDonald's Singapore, retrieved
18 December 2008.
- Mindy Tan, " She misses gold with a stroke", The New
Paper, 15 September 2008.
- "The wonder of Pin Xiu", TODAY, 7 June 2008.
- Sim Chi Yin, "I like the way I am now", The Straits
Times, 17 September 2008.
- Wang Meng Meng, "Yip smashes two world records for the
disabled", The Straits Times, 28 May 2008.
- "Swimmer Yip Pin Xiu is Singapore's golden girl", Channel
NewsAsia, 16 September 2008.
- Chia Han Keong, " Paralympian wonder girls", my paper, 22 September 2008,
retrieved on 13 December 2008.
- Jeremy Auyong, "Unequal rewards can be made fairer", The
Straits Times, 19 September 2008.
- Jeanette Wang, " More for medalists", The Straits
Times, 22 November 2008.
- Tan Yo-Hinn, " Paralympic hopefuls in line for more support",
TODAY, 17 September 2008.