GOLDEN GIRL
Harper's BAZAAR Singapore|November 2021
Five-time Paralympic gold medallist Yip Pin Xiu wants to get people talking about and supporting local sports.
Arissa Ha

Yip Pin Xiu, 29, is as radiant as the six gleaming Paralympic medals—five golds and a silver across four Games— she has under her belt. Warm, positive and terribly sweet, the national swimmer, undoubtedly one of the best athletes to hail from our little red dot, is all smiles when I meet her at the car park. Already seated in her wheelchair, she rolls with confidence to the studio, independent and full of enthusiasm for the shoot. Never one to rest on her laurels, Yip, fresh offwins at the Tokyo Games, already has her sights set on the Paris Paralympics in 2024.

Her journey, she lets on, started when she was just five, when the whole family would accompany her brother to his swimming lessons. “I’d usually be playing in the baby pool by myself,” Yip shares. “Eventually, I asked my mum if I could swim too. She asked the coach, who said, ‘Yeah!’ She had a student who was an amputee, so she knew that it was possible for people with physical disabilities to learn swimming.”

Yip took to the water immediately. “I love the freedom of the water,” she says. “On land, I felt heavy. Sometimes, walking was tough. But in the water, I could do anything that anybody else could do.” Yip’s condition, known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, causes progressive weakening of the limbs and eventually affected her ability to walk. She found relief and independence when she started using a wheelchair, as it meant she no longer had to rely on other people to get around.

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