Prestige 40 Under 40: Yip Pin Xiu, Nominated Member of Parliament and national swimmer
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Yip Pin Xiu

27, NOMINATED MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT AND NATIONAL SWIMMER

The road to victory in the international swimming arena has been lined with sweat and tears, but for national swimmer Yip Pin Xiu, who won two golds at last month’s 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in London, it’s been worth it. The long‐term vision for Yip, though, is more than podium triumphs.

The four‐time Paralympic medallist – a gold and silver at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and two golds in Rio in 2016 – was the youngest ever Nominated Member of Parliament when she took up the post last year. Her goal? To make sports an enjoyable, community-building affair for all, and to attain more support for athletes with disabilities. “Sports,” she says, “is not just for those who are fit. It’s for everybody. And it is also about building a stronger community and national identity.”

Yip also feels that corporations can do more to support local para athletes on their training journey. “In America, they fully depend on corporate sponsorship; there’s no government funding,” she shares. “So it’s actually sustainable as long as more corporations come forward. But in Singapore, they don’t exactly see the value of sports; they see more value in celebrities endorsing their products, because our sporting culture in Singapore isn’t very strong yet.”

During this year’s March Budget debate, Yip delivered a passionate speech in which she voiced the need for athletes with disabilities – currently all managed under the Singapore Disability Sports Council – to be integrated into national sports associations (NSAs), so that training resources can benefit all.

It has been 11 years since she won her first Paralympic medal, but Yip is not done yet; she has her eyes set on the 2024 Paris Games. “I love doing what I do. On days when I’m so tired, I’d ask myself, ‘Would I rather be doing anything else?’ And immediately, I’d know it is a ‘no, not yet’. And then I’d press on and do what I have to, in order to reach my goal.”