SINGAPORE: She came into her race as the overwhelming favourite, and she delivered in style.
On Saturday morning (Sep 10), Yip Pin Xiu ensured Majulah Singapura was heard for a second time in a month at the Olympic Aquatic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
That was after the 24-year-old swimmer won the women’s (S2) 100m backstroke final in a new world record time of 2 minutes 7.09 seconds, lowering her own previous world best mark by more than two seconds.
China’s Feng Yazhu took silver (2:18.65), while bronze went to Iryna Sotska of Ukraine (2:21.98).
Last month, Joseph Schooling broke through for Singapore’s first-ever Olympic gold medal when he won the men’s 100m butterfly, a feat that was widely celebrated in the island-state.
"Three (medals) is phenomenal, because after Beijing and then London, I didn't think I would be able to do this again," said Yip, who was speaking to Channel NewsAsia after the race. "To be able to do it again for me, it's phenomenal and I'm really happy with my times and thankful for all the support that is coming from Singapore."
When asked about her plans for the future, Yip said her most immediate plan is to go get ice cream after all her races, because "we have been watching our diet." She added that she also plans to go back to school as she had taken a year off to train full-time. "When I graduate from school, I'm not sure...but I might still continue to swim for a while more," she said.
Singapore’s first Paralympic medal had been achieved eight years earlier by Yip, when she won the (S3) 50m Backstroke. She also took silver in the (S3) 50m Freestyle at the same Games.
Yip has since been re-classified as an S2 swimmer as the muscular dystrophy that afflicts her advanced and progressively weakens her muscles.
The International Paralympic Committee classifies S2 as swimmers that rely mainly on their arms for swimming due to limited functions or coordination problems with their hands, trunks or legs.
Having missed out on the podium at the London Paralympics in 2012 – she finished fourth in both her races – Yip signalled her comeback at the ASEAN Para Games last year when she smashed the S2 world record for the 50m backstroke while competing in the S5 final, against more mobile competitors. Her time then was 1min 1.61sec.
She proceeded to lower that mark to 1min 1.39s this May at the European Championships in Funchal, Portugal, where she also set a new world mark for the S2 100m backstroke.
Yip, who is a final-year political science student at the Singapore Management University, will be competing in the S2 50m backstroke final next week.