Paralympians Honoured for Resilience While Goalball Sweeps Most Prizes at Singapore Disability Sports Awards 2021 Presented by Haw Par Corporation
- Three-time Paralympic gold medallist Yip Pin Xiu takes home Sportswoman of the Year (Resilience) title
- Tokyo-bound para cyclist Steve Tee Wee Leong, alongside pilot Ang Kee Meng named Sportsman of the Year
- Goalball community takes home three awards with national goalball women’s team winning Team of the Year (Resilience)
Three-time Paralympic gold medallist Yip Pin Xiu has been named Sportswoman of the Year (Resilience) at the Singapore Disability Sports Awards (SDSA) 2021 presented by Haw Par Corporation. This marks the second time Yip has won the Sportswoman of the Year award since the SDSA returned in 2019.
Organised by the Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC), the SDSA presented by Haw Par Corporation aims to recognise the achievements and contributions made by individuals or groups in the disability sports community. Given the lack of competitions globally amidst the health pandemic, SDSA 2021 was dubbed a special ‘Resilience’ edition, with the event celebrating members of the disability sports community for their display of the Paralympic values – courage, determination, inspiration and equality – during the 2020/2021 financial year (1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021).
Yip, who last competed internationally in January 2020, has been finding different ways to keep herself in form for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, since the pandemic hit in early 2020. Besides self-training at home, Yip also undertook COVID-19 testing regularly to be able to train safely at the pool and gym, when restrictions allowed. Pin Xiu managed to clock Season Bests for the Women’s 50m Backstroke S2 (1:05.79) and Women’s 100m Backstroke S2 (2:16.34) at the Haw Par National Youth Swimming Championships 2021. Outside of a full-time sports career, the former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) also volunteered her time for multiple causes, including the World Para Swimming High Support Needs Committee, the Safe Sport Commission, the National Youth Council and the Singapore Disability Sports Council.
Yip’s coach, Mark Chay Jung Jun, was named the Coach (High Performance) of the Year (Resilience) for his coaching efforts and giving back to sport as a NMP.
“I am very happy to win the Sportswoman of the Year title, in what has been a challenging year for everyone. Apart from performing to the best of my abilities in the pool, I want to also contribute to sports and create an environment for others to follow in my footsteps. These two years have been very different without the usual competitions and camps. We have prepared for Tokyo 2020 to the best of our abilities in this situation and I am looking forward to race for Singapore,” said Yip.
Cyclist Steve Tee Wee Leong, together with pilot Ang Kee Meng, was named Sportsman of the Year (Resilience). Tee’s meteoric rise in the sport of para cycling will see him debut at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, making the pair Singapore’s first-ever tandem male cyclists to the Paralympic Games. Tee had taken a sabbatical from his job in 2019 to focus on his lead-up to Tokyo 2020, which was scheduled for August 2020 originally. This act was echoed by Ang, who committed himself to support Tee’s full-time training. When the pandemic hit and delayed Tokyo 2020 to 2021, both battled with multiple mental struggles to persist in their training.
“This journey has taught me the need to trust the process and to stay focused on what I can do to improve. The situation is mostly out of our hands but the onus is on my pilot and I to continue training hard and improving our craft. I am honoured to be named the Sportsman of the Year alongside my pilot Kee Meng. I want to dedicate the award to everyone who has supported us on our journey to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The journey is like a roller coaster ride for me, from having setbacks of back injuries and going through surgery last year. This didn’t stop me from bouncing back three months later to make it a comeback to continue to train for the Paralympic Games. I would like to dedicate my quote to everyone out there, ‘Do not allow setbacks to hold you back, bounce back from your setbacks to make it a comeback’.” said Tee.
The goalball community was the biggest winner of the night, picking up three of the nine awards. The national goalball women’s team scooped up ‘Team of the Year’ while team coach Hansen Bay was named Coach (Developmental) of the Year. For their efforts in promoting the sport of goalball through innovative experiences and events such as the VisAbility Fitness Challenge 2020 and the VisAbility 2 on 2 Goalball Challenge 2021, the Goalball Singapore club won the Community Impact Award (Events & Initiatives).
Sportsboy of the Year (Resilience) went to Aloysius Gan Kai Hong, who started playing boccia at the age of 7, aided by his competition partner and father, Gan Keng Aik. Sportsgirl of the Year (Resilience) also went to a fellow boccia athlete, Lim Yu Fei Faye, and her competition partner and father, Lim Boon Ghee. Both Gan Keng Aik and Lim Boon Ghee, who stepped up to act as volunteer coaches for other boccia athletes when the pandemic restrictions required training to be split into bubbles, were nominated for the Community Impact Award (Volunteering) but lost the award to Goh Nigel Mark Jian Huang. Goh, an overseas university student who decided to make full use of his time, being unable to travel out of Singapore for his studies, to volunteer at the para powerlifting team’s trainings instead.
“Despite a dearth of competition opportunities this past year, it was all the more important to celebrate the determination, courage and inspiration of our community during these challenging times. Sport has shown that it is a societal leveller and one that can be enjoyed by everyone, including persons with disabilities. We are grateful that Haw Par Corporation was agreeable to help us emphasise this through their continued support for the awards,” said Dr Teo-Koh Sock Miang, SDSC President.
The virtual award ceremony was graced by Mr Alvin Tan, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth & Trade and Industry, and Mr Brian Loo, Group General Manager, Haw Par Corporation.
“COVID-19 has impacted the sports community and resulted in many having to explore new, novel methods of training. Despite the challenges, we know that the spirit and dedication of our Team Singapore athletes has never wavered. I would like to congratulate all nominees, winners and the community. They have supported one another and shown tremendous resilience in the past one and a half years. Let’s continue to support our athletes and cheer them on at the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Let’s work together to create more inclusive opportunities for the community to experience the beauty of sport,” said MOS Tan.
A supporter of the SDSC since 2015, Haw Par Corporation renewed their commitment to support SDSC and disability sports through their corporate social responsibility initiative, with a donation of $120,000 in 2021 to the SDSC. This is the third year that Haw Par Corporation is the presenting partner for the SDSA. The corporate donation will also be channeled towards developing the sport of boccia and bringing the sport to the community through the WeHeartBoccia Programme.
“We are proud to support the growth of disability sports in Singapore. The para athletes and the community have time and again shown us what it means to be dedicated and to show resilience in the face of challenging circumstances. We wish all para athletes continued success and good health. In particular, we extend our well-wishes for all Team Singapore athletes competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. We are cheering you on”, Mr Wee Ee Lim, President & CEO, Haw Par Corporation Limited.
Please download full media release from here