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Yip Pin Xiu wins Singapore’s first Paralympics gold medal 15th Sep 2008

On 15 September 2008, Yip Pin Xiu made sports history by becoming the first Singaporean to win a gold medal at the Paralympic Games. At the 13th games held in Beijing, China, Yip won the 50-metre backstroke (S3) event in a time of 58.75 s. Two days earlier, Yip’s valiant effort in the 50-metre freestyle (S3) clinched an unexpected silver medal. Yip also set two world records at the games: the heats for the 50-metre backstroke (57.92 s) and 50-metre freestyle events (57.04 s).[1]

In the preparation for the Paralympics, Yip underwent 11 weekly intensive training sessions. Besides swimming, Yip’s training regimen included weight training for core and muscular strengthening as well as high-altitude training in places like Kunming, China, to enhance her breathing capability.[2] Yip’s stellar performance at the games garnered her a S$100,000 cash prize under the Singapore National Paralympic Council Athlete Achievement Awards scheme, while another S$50,000 was awarded for her silver medal.[3]

Diagnosed with hereditary sensory-motor neuropathy (muscular dystrophy) at age three, Yip has been wheelchair-bound from age 13. She started swimming as a form of physical therapy at the age of five, when she joined her abled-bodied elder brothers for swimming lessons. She was talent-spotted by officials of the Singapore Disability Sports Council in 2004 when she was 12, and was invited to train with the Singapore Paralympics team. In 2005, she won two gold medals and a bronze at her first international event, the World Wheelchair and Amputee Games.[4]

Yip has won numerous awards and received many accolades for her sporting excellence. She was named “Sportsgirl of the Year” by the Singapore Disability Sports Council for three consecutive years, from 2006 to 2008.[5] For her outstanding achievements at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, Yip was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by then President S. R. Nathan.[6]

In 2009, Yip was honoured with the title of “Her World Young Woman Achiever 2008”, which is bestowed on women under 35 years of age for their achievements and potential for further accomplishments.[7] In 2010, she was conferred Singapore’s highest youth accolade – the Singapore Youth Award (Sports and Adventure) – for being a role model and an inspiration to other youths.[8]

1. Tan, Y. (2008, September 16). Pin Xiu the golden girl. Today, p. 34; Sim, C. Y. (2008, September 14). Surprise silver, now for gold. The Straits Times, p. 35; Wang, J. (2008, September 2). Breakthrough? The Straits Times, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. In conversation with Yip Pin Xiu Team Singapore swimmer. (2010). Let’s Play Sports Guide 2010. Retrieved December 22, 2014, from Sports Guide website: http://www.sportsguide.sg/IndProf%5CSSD%5C2010%5CLPSG%202010%20ED03.5_YipPX.pdf
3. Today, 16 Sep 2008, p. 34; The Straits Times, 14 Sep 2008, p. 35.
4. Singapore Press Holdings. (n.d.). Her World Young Woman Achiever 2008: Yip Pin Xiu, swimmer, one gold medal and one silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.  Retrieved December 22, 2014, from Her World Plus website: http://www.herworldplus.com/celebs/updates/celebs-updates-her-world-young-woman-achiever-2008-yip-pin-xiu-swimmer-one-gold-medal; Tan, M. (2008, September 14). She misses gold with a stroke. The New Paper, p. 8 Singapore Council of Women’s Organisation. (n.d.). Yip Pin Xiu: Singapore’s first Olympic-level gold medal winner. Retrieved December 22, 2014, from Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame website: http://www.swhf.sg/the-inductees/22-sports/177-yip-pin-xiu
5. ASEAN Para Games Singapore. (2015). Steering committee. Retrieved December 22, 2014, from 8th ASEAN Para Games website: http://www.aseanparagames2015.com/about/steering-committee
6. Chua, G. (2009, March 7). Not the final curtain call yet. The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Zeinab Yusof. (2009, March 7). Her World honours 3 women. The Business Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. 4 awarded Singapore's highest youth accolade. (2010, July 4). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva.


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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