Honour Yip, but don't put her in the same league as Schooling

Honour Yip, but don't put her in the same league as Schooling
PHOTO: Reuters

Yip Pin Xiu created waves in the Rio pool and sparked a big debate after her gold-medal swim at the Paralympics.

It has been five days since her majestic swim in world-record time, but the ripples of the waves are still being felt.

And Singaporeans all over the world, netizens from here and afar, and even politicians are lapping up the glory of Yip's feat - and a victory by "a mile" of more than 10 seconds over silver-medallist Feng Yazhu of China.

While luxuriating in Yip's two-lap superhuman effort, the glued group are also caught in the frenzy of what Yip's reward should be.

The two-time Paralympic gold medal winner, who was born with muscular dystrophy, is assured of a $200,000 reward as stipulated by the Athletes Achievement Awards rewards scheme which is driven by the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC).

 
 

But in the wake of swimmer Joseph Schooling's Olympic 100 metres butterfly gold medal - a first for Singapore - which won him a $1 million booty (although he takes home $680,000), there is a clamour for Yip to receive a similar reward.

This over-reaction has to be stymied. What if Schooling had not achieved his dream?

And you cannot put Yip's effort - however colossal it has been considering her handicap, tough training regimen and rigours of the battle of mind over matter - in the same league as Schooling's mammoth achievement.

For Yip swam in a classification race based on the disabilities (100m backstroke S2) with direct entry into the final, which obviously meant that there was a smaller field as compared to Schooling's event.

The 24-year-old was one of six competitors as compared to Schooling's rivalry with 42 other swimmers, which called for heats, semi-finals and final.

So the scale of competition is vastly different. The interest in the events grossly varied.

So let's put some perspective into this.

I certainly admire what Yip has done and believe that she deserves all the accolades and the offers that have come (like AirAsia's decision to give free flights) and those to come (many companies are considering ways to recognise her effort).

Read also: Lego immortalises Singapore Paralympic swimmers' wins with minifigs

But a prize of $1m, on a par with Schooling's, cannot be the answer. However, something more than $200,000 can be considered.

For her 2008 Paralympic gold medal in Beijing, she was supposed to receive $100,000, which was eventually raised to $200,000. With 25 per cent going to the SNPC, she took home $150,000.

She is slated to receive a similar amount this time and, with high hopes of another victory in the S2 50m backstroke for which she is the world-record holder, Yip could double the prize.

Read also: Yip Pin Xiu clinches Singapore's second gold medal at Paralympics

And a public event to honour her indomitable spirit is on the cards.

So the bottomline: Yip has done Singapore proud by ruling the world again, but the impact she has made is certainly not as massive as what Schooling had achieved.


This article was first published on September 15, 2016.
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