National swimmer Yip Pin Xiu made it a proud day for Singapore sports this evening when she won the Republic’s first-ever gold medal at the Paralympic Games.
The 16-year-old Bendemeer Secondary student took just 58.75sec to create local sporting history at the Beijing Games. That’s the time she took to win today’s women’s 50m backstroke S3 final.
In fact, there was double joy for both Pin Xiu and Singapore in the pool today.
The teenager had come away from her heat in the morning with a new world record in the event. One of two Singapore swimmers in action today, she had clocked 57.92sec to shatter the world mark of 1min 00.80sec which she had set last April (the other Singapore swimmer was Theresa Goh who did not qualify for the women’s 50m freestyle S5 final).
In fact, the moment the heats for the 50m backstroke S3 were over, it was clear that Pin Xiu was going to be the overwhelming favourite for the gold medal.
Reason: Her time not only made her the fastest qualifier, it was also almost 10 seconds faster than nearest rival Anneke Conradi of Germany who had clocked 1:07.61sec in her heat.
And Pin Xiu, who has muscular dystrophy and is wheelchair-bound, duly delivered the gold when the final rolled around at 6.12pm this evening. And just as in the morning, she was once again just way too fast for her fellow competitors despite clocking a slower 58.75sec.
Fran Williamson of Britain was second in 1:06.07 while Xia Jiangbo of China took the bronze in 1:07.97.
The gold is Pin Xiu’s second medal of the Paralympic Games – she had won the silver in the women’s 50m freestyle S3 final on Saturday. It is also Singapore’s fourth medal of the Games following horse-rider Laurentia Tan’s two bronzes last week.
And in all likelihood, the gold must have been a huge relief for Pin Xiu after her disappointment in the women’s 50m freestyle final. She had entered that final as the favourite following her world record-breaking 57.04sec swim in the heat.
However, Mexico’s Patricia Valle, the swimmer whose world mark Pin Xiu broke, turned the tables on her by beating her in the final in 57.05sec.
But Valle was nowhere near Pin Xiu’s calibre in this evening’s final. She finished fourth in 1:12.88.
Pin Xiu, on the other hand, finished at the top of the podium, with the Paralympic Games gold around her neck, with a huge smile on her face and tears in her eyes as she saw the Singapore flag being raised to the rafters to the strains of the Majullah Singapura.
The Singapore Sports Fan extends his heartiest congratulations to Pin Xiu for her win. Well done, Pin Xiu, you are a true sporting heroine and I salute you!
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan