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Photos: Sport Singapore

Gold Medal No. 4 In The Bag: No Pandemic Can Stop Pin Xiu

If you talk to yourself a lot to de-stress, don’t worry. So does gold medalist Yip Pin Xiu. In fact, that’s how the para-swimmer hypes herself up or calms herself down.

Plus, a good support system helps to keep her calm under pressure. "The people around me assured me that I’ve put in all the work already and what I really needed to do was to come out here and race," says the now four-time gold medallist at the Paralympic Games.

"It’s been a rough 1½ to 2 years for everyone, not just for myself. Even though we didn’t have competitions or training camps, and weren't able to do things the normal way, it was really about not giving up hope and not losing sight of the goal," says the 29-year-old who won the 100m backstroke S2 in 2:16:61.

"My coach and my team have been able to adapt to this situation and still help me improve at training. For that, I am really, really very grateful."

Pin Xiu will be looking to defend her title in the 50m backstroke S2 on 2 Sep.

Meanwhile, we chart Pin Xiu's road to her latest gold medal, from the start of 2020 - amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some more! - one inspirational IG post at a time:

9 Jan 2020: Wah seh, she strong sia

#inspo IG caption: "Documenting the first time I broke a stretch cord in 16 years. Feeling strong, not gonna lie. "

23 Jan 2020: End of first mesocycle

What's a mesocycle? It is a particular block of training designed to accomplish a particular goal, for example, strength or endurance.

#inspo IG caption: "The competition last weekend was a good check in point to see how we were progressing since the World Champs last year. We’re at the end of our first mesocycle and I’m rather pleased with the outcome! ☺️ Small but in the right direction with our SC and DPS. What makes me even more excited is that we know what we need to work on and how to further improve!! Next 2 phases going to be ."

5 Aug 2020: Regaining "water feel"

#inspo IG caption: "tb to 8 weeks back post circuit breaker. It hasn’t been easy coming back since the 70 day hiatus. Having Charcot Marie Tooth, my condition causes me to de train faster than most people."

"I took awhile to regain my water feel. Whatever exercises I did during the circuit breaker slightly helped me to not feel like I had to start from zero again, not a big number but definitely not zero. We have had to slowly climb back up, had a bit of chronic overloading pains. Not back to where I was yet but every single day, I am so grateful that I get to be back in the water."

24 Nov 2020: Pain-free in the gym

#inspo IG caption: "Today was a good day.✨ I had a good session in the pool with some increase in volume (back to almost usual) after managing an injury for awhile, I was pain free in the gym, I had good feedback from my biomech session and more tips on things I can work on. Outside of the technical stuff, I had a great nap and spent time with my loved ones. Today, I celebrate the little wins."

11 Dec 2020: Donning the race suit after a year

#inspo IG caption: "The last time I put on my race suit was in January. Without any competitions this year to attend, race gear has been sitting in the cupboard waiting for the day to come where they can be in action again. The day finally arrived this week when we had a time trial."

"The week before trials, I started to get really nervous about it and was afraid that I would do poorly because it has been so long since I last was put in a race environment + managing an injury from a month back."

"However the night before, when I was packing my Speedo Fastskin, I started to get really excited about squeezing into my suit, and about feeling fast!! ‍♀️ Was not disappointed! Probably the closest back to back I’ve swam in awhile - 20 min warm up, 15 mins between my 2 events. Couldn’t stay there for too long and had to clear the pool for another batch of swimmers. It was a new experience for myself and all the other people involved."

"Thank you SDSC and everyone who made this happen in a year of safe distancing and uncertainty. Training like this will surely help to generate some momentum. Really looking forward to next year and hoping the situation makes a turn for the better."

6 Mar 2021: Coming round to ice baths

#inspo IG caption: "10°C ice bath. For years I have always rejected the idea of an ice bath recovery because it is pure pain to my extremities, but for this week I will take all the help I can get to recover. Thankfully I got convinced to try it with my legs out of the bath. The first min is tough but after awhile the body gets use to it and the mind can be zen. This cycle at training has been exceptionally tough but I love seeing the progress. Can’t wait for deload week."

15 Jun 2021: Slow and steady wins the race

#inspo IG caption: "Bringing you your morning kopi peng… ☕️ I love getting my drills in every session. Practicing going slow to perfection so it can translate to going fast with great efficiency when the time comes."

13 Jul 2021: Trusting the process

#inspo IG caption: "42 more days to Tokyo. Have not travelled for camps and competitions since the pandemic started. For so long I have just kept my head down and trained hard every single day, trusting the process. With the hype about the games growing now, I am feeling an added level of excitement and nerves already!!"

"With each passing phase getting more intense, I need to constantly push but seeing my body adapting is . Ok now max sets, let’s go."

13 Aug 2021: 7 days to D-Day

#inspo IG caption: "In my preparation camp for Tokyo 2020. Since 2016 I have been looking forward to Tokyo 2020, setting my sights on it. After almost 5 years as we get nearer to the games, time seems to pass by too quickly. All the years we put in and have our lives revolve around the sport, it’s finally time."

"It is different this cycle, with the pandemic we have not had camps or competitions. We have trials locally and that helps a bit to get us in the routine. Thankful for the extra year we have had to train."

"One more week till we depart. I trust what we are doing and know that I will be ready then. "

"4th Paralympics, let’s go. ❤️"

22 Aug 2021: And we're off!

#inspo IG caption: Flying off from the best airport in the best airline with the best crew sending me off.

All smiles after coming in first place.Photo: Sport Singapore

25 Aug 2021: Gold medal in 2:16:61

The two-time world champion wins the women's 100m backstroke S2 final at the Tokyo Paralympic Games in a time of 2:16:61.

"Just being able to step onto the podium and hear our national anthem being played is really a special moment," she says after successfully defending her title for the first time.

"I do this for myself and for Singapore."

When asked what the "Singapore Spirit" means to her, the Paralympic champion said, "I think the Singapore Spirit is one of resilience. It is one where we fight for what we want and we care for others."

Her next swim: the 50m backstroke S2 on 2 Sep. Gambatte, girl!

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