Yip Pin Xiu
Singapore’s first Olympic-level gold medal winner
She was the youngest of the Singapore team at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, but Yip Pin Xiu was also the brightest star, bringing home Singapore's first ever Olympic-level gold medal.
Pin Xiu was born with muscular dystrophy, which means her muscles degenerate progressively with age. Her condition made it difficult for her to connect with and keep up with her schoolmates, and she became introverted. By the age of 13, she could no longer walk and had to use a wheelchair.
She had started swimming when she was five with her brothers as a weekly family activity. A volunteer with the Singapore Disability Sports Council noticed her swimming and how she was able, despite her physical challenges, to keep up with the other children and encouraged her to swim competitively. She began to do so when she was 12.
Soon she was taking part in regional and international meets, and she was bringing back medals. At her first international event, the World Wheelchair and Amputee Games 2005, she won two gold medals and a bronze. Before long, she began breaking world records.
Then, in 2008 at the Beijing Paralympics, she produced Singapore’s first Olympic-level gold medal, easily winning the 50 metres backstroke final. At the 2012 London Games, she missed out on a medal when she was fourth in the 50 and 100 metres freestyle.
Pin Xiu knows that her eyesight and muscles might be deteriorating, but she does not let this keep her from living life to the fullest. She once said: “There are many things in life that we cannot control hence we should not worry unnecessarily. We should focus on the good things we have in life. I am grateful for all I have in life and I will continue to pursue and work hard towards my dreams and make an impact to society."
The introverted and unconfident child has become a self-assured, humorous and positive young woman. She is pursuing a Social Science degree at the Singapore Management University. Pin Xiu was named Sportsgirl of the Year by Singapore Disability Sports Council for three years in a row, from 2006 to 2008. On her return from Beijing in 2008, she was awarded the Public Service Medal.
Pin Xiu was Her World magazine’s “Young Woman Achiever” in 2008.
In 2015, she became the first para-athlete to be inducted into the Sport Hall of Fame.
"I decided that I should really excel as much as possible when my body still allows me, by pushing myself to the limits for Singapore."