Disability with No Inability

Smashing records and breaking barriers; Pin Xiu champions life like no other

The announcement of “Yip Pin Xiu!” broke the anticipatory silence as the newly crowned The Straits Times athlete of the Year 2016 smiled. The two time world record holder wheeled herself on stage as the audiences cheered and applauded Pin Xiu, in deserved recognition of her athletic achievements.

The award may have been for her sporting achievements but deep down in all our hearts we knew this award meant so much more. There was as sense of awe and respect as she took stage to receive her award. To many, this would have been a milestone but instead she chose to deflect the attention and congratulate all the nominees knowing that all the candidates were champions in their own right.

Let us take a second to put her under the microscope, to try to fathom how such championship DNA was formed right here, silencing all sceptics of the inability of the local sporting scene being unable to succeed in the global stage.

A quick google search on muscular dystrophy and it explains it is a hereditary condition marked by progressive weakening and wasting of the muscles. The explanation itself is not meant to spur one on to be a world record holder, I beg your pardon, a two time world record holder.

She quickly rose to fame in 2008 as she became the first ever Singaporean to win a ‘Olympic’ gold medal to the amazement of everyone. At only a tender age of 16, media attention and a nation’s expectation suddenly weighed down on her shoulder. Fast forward 8 years, her condition has slowed her down and made life more challenging as she dropped from class S3 to S2 recently. From waking up, to studying, shuttling to and fro training ground to home and the list of tasks that takes double the effort to accomplish is never ending as she weakens according to the ‘wiki’ definition.

As for all timing sports, it takes years and countless hours of training to shave of even half a second of one’s personal best timing. Pin Xiu knew this for a fact and she took her time as she pushed every inch of her body to excel better than she did the day before, 8 years on she was rewarded with a another World Record Timing at the recent ASEAN Para Games.

Two World Records under your name, surely rest would be an option but not for her. She has a DNA within her to strive for greatness; it would not let her rest though her muscles are screaming for it. She has instead stepped up training together with her best friend, Theresa Goh as they hit the pool as early as 6am on a daily basis.

She has been quoted many times of how she feels free in the water as she can do anything she wants as the biggest reason for her love for swimming. The irony of this is that she has not realized how she has freed the barriers of achievement that many local athletes suffer today. Her records are a constant reminder to every single one of us that the limits are only as far as you want it to go. The restraints of her disability immediately demolished the minute she hits the pool.

Examining all this, it still leaves us all ‘jaw-dropped’ to actually grasp how much she has achieved but believe me; the best is yet to come. With such DNA within a person, we can only afford to wait and be kept on the edge of our seats to witness the next ‘mountain’ she conquers!

There were rumours going around saying she does an estimated 40 laps every morning, I guess it won’t be a surprise that by the next time she picks up an award up those numbers will increase, but till that time, every Singaporean will be supporting you all the way!

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