Yip Pin Xiu wins third Sportswoman of the Year at Singapore Disability Sports Awards

·4 min read
Para-swimmers Yip Pin Xiu (left) and Toh Wei Soong won the Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year honours at the Singapore Disability Sports Awards. (PHOTO: Singapore Disability Sports Council)
Para-swimmers Yip Pin Xiu (left) and Toh Wei Soong won the Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year honours at the Singapore Disability Sports Awards. (PHOTO: Singapore Disability Sports Council)

SINGAPORE — Tokyo Paralympics double gold-medallist Yip Pin Xiu won her third Sportswoman of the Year accolade at the Singapore Disability Sports Awards ceremony, held at the ParkRoyal@Beach Road on Wednesday (6 July).

The 30-year-old, who had recently won two golds at the World Para Swimming Championships, had retained both her golds at last year's Tokyo Paralympics, making her by far the most successful Singapore Paralympian with five golds and one silver won since 2008.

Her third Sportswoman of the Year honour pulls her level with para-swimmer and good friend Theresa Goh, who also won the accolade three times from 2004 to 2006.

"To win three consecutive Sportswoman of the Year awards is recognition of the consistent effort that my team and myself has gone through," Yip said after the ceremony.

"I'm really, really grateful for the support the entire ecosystem behind me. And hopefully, in the next couple of years, I will also be getting faster times and better results."

Meanwhile, Yip's coach Mark Chay - who was recently elected unopposed as the president of the Singapore Swimming Association - was awarded his second Coach of the Year (High Performance) honours, despite entering the para-swimming scene just three years ago.

Toh Wei Soong earns 1st Sportsman of the Year accolade

Another para-swimmer, Toh Wei Soong, secured his first Sportsman of the Year award after his national record-breaking fourth-place finish in the men's 50m butterfly final at the Tokyo Paralympics. Toh, 23, had been previously awarded Sportsboy of the Year in 2019 and 2020.

"The Sportsman of the Year award is a transition for me as a more mature and experienced athlete," Toh said.

"As someone who is moving into the later half of his career, the question is not so much whether I make the standard, but how much further can I raise the standard, not just for myself but for the rest of my sport."

Colin Soon, 17, earned the Sportsboy of the Year honour after winning four golds at the 2021 Asian Youth Para Games. The Sportsgirl of the Year went to 20-year-old sprinter Siti Nurhayati Ali Aksar Khan, who took a silver at the Asian Youth Para Games despite losing her father just before the competition.

Soon's coach Roland Tan was awarded Coach of the Year (Development), while boccia duo Aloysius Gan and Yan Jia Yi was named Team of the Year for winning Singapore’s first boccia medal at the Asian Youth Para Games.

Former SDSC president gets Lifetime Achievement Award

A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Tan Ju Seng, the longest-serving Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) president (12 years) and the first president of the Singapore National Paralympic Council.

During his acceptance speech, Tan spoke about how difficult it was for the SDSC to garner support in the early years since its inauguration in 1973, and it was not until Yip won her first gold at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics that the disability sports scene finally gained prominence and acceptance in Singapore.

His speech moved many of the para-athletes at the ceremony, and Yip said, "I was just 16 at the Beijing Paralympics, so I didn't understand how much work went behind getting me to the start of the pool.

"Now, I've understood how everybody had to push so much get all the funding just to get us athletes to Beijing, and then things got better. It's really been a journey and, even though we are still facing certain challenges, we are definitely working towards making para-sports more prominent and accessible."

The awards night was presented by Haw Par Corporation, whose group general manager Brian Loo presented a $120,000 cheque to SDSC to continue its support of the Boccia team in their trainings and competitions, as well as introducing the sport to the wider community.

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