November 17, 2023
SINGAPORE – Not much has changed for Yip Pin Xiu in the swimming pool over the past decade – she remains a dominant force, picking up medals and breaking world records.
But these days, her wins are not just for herself but also for a wider community.
After picking up her fourth Sportswoman of the Year gong at the Singapore Disability Sports Awards on Wednesday, Yip said: “I still want to win but, at the end of the day, my motivation and supporters have changed over the years.
“I feel like now, when I win, it’s for a community, it’s for a country, it’s for a bigger movement other than myself.
“Of course, I also want to win for myself. As I understand more, as I hear more from people, as I get to know more from people, as I get to know more of the community and speak up for them, eventually they also feel like a bit part of me.
“Since I have the voice, I want to do this for everyone.”
Yip, 31, was honoured for her 2022 feats at the awards ceremony organised by the Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, where fellow swimming Toh Wei Soong was crowned Sportsman of the Year.
At the 2022 World Para Swimming Championships in Madeira, Portugal, she defended her 50m and 100m backstroke S2 titles, setting a world record in the latter.
The five-time Paralympic champion, who has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease or hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy, a progressive nerve condition, also shattered four world records at the 2022 Australian Short Course Championships.
Out of the pool, Yip has been a vocal champion for inclusivity. She served as the co-chairperson of the 2023 Purple Parade organising committee and was also involved in the 2022 SDSC charity golf event, which raised $500,000.
She was nominated for the Sportswoman award alongside Faridah Salleh (lawn bowls), Maisarah Hassan (athletics), Nur Syahidah Alim (archery), Nur Aini Yasli (powerlifting) and Sophie Soon (swimming).
The night was also significant for Yip, with SDSC celebrating its 50th anniversary, as she noted the progress para-sports has made in the past decade.
She said: “The Paralympic movement has really grown. In Singapore, Singaporeans know what para-sports is, people with disabilities know there’s an option for them to do sports, and there are more opportunities.
“It’s really the hard work of people behind the scenes.
“I know that in the next couple of years, it’s only going to get bigger, there is going to be more inclusion.”
Taking home the Sportsman award was Toh, who clinched the men’s 50m freestyle S7 silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
It was also Singapore’s first silver medal in para-sports at the quadrennial competition.
This is the second time that the 25-year-old, who has transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord which restricts the use of his legs, has won the award.
He was up for the Sportsman gong with lawn bowlers James Joseph Michael, Mahendran Pasupathy, Mawjit Singh and Khirmern Mohamad, Diroy Noordin (athletics) and Tay Wei Ming (badminton).
Like Yip, Toh has also been an advocate for various causes, participating in initiatives such as the 2022 SDSC charity golf event. He was unable to attend the ceremony as he was at a training camp in Japan but younger brother Kei Soong accepted the award on his behalf.
Thanking those who have supported his brother, Kei Soong, 19, said: “He is a role model to me. Seeing him being able to overcome the struggles he’s faced, despite the hard work and tough times, he’s still able to come up on top, I find that really admirable.
“I’m just super proud of him.”
The Team of the Year award went to 2022 Asean Para Games boccia gold medallists Aloysius Gan and Toh Sze Ning, as well as their athlete competition partners (ACP) Kagan Gan, who is also Aloysius’ father, and Chew Zi Qun.
Sportsman of the Year: Toh Wei Soong (swimming)
Sportswoman of the Year: Yip Pin Xiu (swimming)
Sportsboy of the Year: Wong Zhi Wei (swimming)
Sportsgirl of the Year: Adelia Naomi Yokoyama (bowling)
Team of the Year: Aloysius Gan, athlete competition partner (ACP) Kagan Gan and Toh Sze Ning, ACP Chew Zi Qun (boccia)
Coach of the Year (High Performance): William Woo (bowling)
Coach of the Year (Developmental): Goh Chyuan (table tennis)
Spirit of Sport (Male): Dexter Goh (wheelchair basketball)
Spirit of Sport (Female): Nurulasyiqah Mohd Taha (boccia)
Spirit of Sport (Team): Singapore Rollers (powerchair football)
Coach (Community): Lanny Kwok (boccia)
Community Changemaker: PlayBuddy
Event of the Year: Run for Inclusion
Volunteer of the Year: Yeo Jia Chyang (swimming)