Theresa Goh won her bronze medal after finishing the race in third place in the women’s SB4 100m breaststroke final in Rio de Janeiro on Monday (12 September), morning (Singapore time).
The 29-year-old athlete finished in 1min 55.55s. With the first place was taken by Sarah Louise Rung of Norway who finished in 1:44.94s, and on the second place was Giulia Ghiretti from Italy with 1:50.58s.
Theresa’s debut in the Paralympics was in 2004 in Athens where she finished fifth in the 100m breaststroke, her pet event. She was the first female Singapore swimmer to compete at the Paralympics. She had continued to join the event without earning any medals, until now. However, Theresa has won 27 gold medals at the ASEAN Para Games.
Due to congenital spina bifida, Theresa does not have use of her legs. Therefore she had been classified as S5 swimmer. The International Paralympic Committee classifies an S5 as swimmers who suffers short stature and an additional impairment, with the loss of control over one side of their body (hemiplegia) or with paraplegia compete in this sports class.
Theresa has two more events to come, which are the S5 50m freestyle and the S5 100m freestyle.
Referring to an Equestrienne, Ms Laurentia Tan, who won a medal bronze in 2012 Paralympics in London, the SNPC’s Athletes Achievement Awards scheme awarded Laurentia $50,000 for winning the bronze medal. Twenty percent of the prize money was paid to the Singapore National Paralympic Council for training and development. Meaning that Theresa will get $40,000 (after $10,000 deducted for SNPC before tax, a far cry from a bronze in the Olympics which will fetch $160,000 (after deduction to relevant sporting association).
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote a congratulatory message on his Facebook page. He said that Theresa had been an inspiration, leading by example and showing people how hard work and perseverance pays off.
The Minister for Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth Grace Fu praised Theresa’s unwavering dedication as a true inspiration.
In an interview with Straits Times after her event, she said: “I’m so stoked. It’s kind of really surreal to me right now. It feels like a dream honestly and I’m waiting for someone to pinch me and wake me up. It’s been a long time coming and I’m beyond happy that I’ve made it.
“I don’t know how I stuck in there for so long. 17 years in swimming, 8 years since I lost out on that medal in Beijing.
“But honestly it’s such a team effort. And I know I’ve said it too many times but without the team behind me, this would’ve been impossible.”
Her teammate, Yip Pin Xiu, congratulate Theresa on the winning. Yip posted a picture of them hugging and shed tears of joy. Yip wrote that she was extremely proud of her teammate as Theresa is now a Paralympics medalist after 17 years of training and perseverance.