A motion was moved in Parliament today (7 November) to honour the achievements of Paralympians contingent at the Rio Paralympic Games in September.
The 13-strong team of Paralympians was invited, however, only nine of them have turned up at the motion, including Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh.
Yip earned two golden medals at the Games. The first gold medal in the 100m backstroke S2 event with a world record in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on Saturday (10 September) and the second gold medal in the S2 50m backstroke event of the Paralympics 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
While, 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).
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu spoke in the Parliament, saying, “Our Paralympians, with their incredible feats in Rio, have uplifted the nation. Adding to an already impressive haul of 1 Gold, 2 Silvers and 3 Bronzes from past Games, our Paralympians brought home another 2 Gold and 1 Bronze medal.”
Ms Grace also Highlighting the achievements of each of the 13-strong contingent, Fu applauded Team Singapore for their “courage, determination, and fighting spirit.”
Added Fu: “Beyond medals, each Paralympian has shown us what it means to be a champion – to be counted among the world’s best, and fly our flag high at the world’s biggest stage for para sports.
“These 13 extraordinary athletes have shown us that with hard work and sacrifice, we can realise our dreams. Their achievements also exemplify how a nation as small as ours can punch above its weight.”
She added, “These 13 extraordinary athletes have shown us that with hard work and sacrifice, we can realise our dreams. Their achievements also exemplify how a nation as small as ours can punch above its weight.”
Tributes were also paid to the athletes’ caregivers, coaches and families, as well as officials from the Singapore Disability Sports Council, Singapore National Paralympic Council and Singapore Sports Institute for their tireless contributions.
Ms Grace said that to see the outpouring of pride and appreciation from Singaporeans, who turned up at the airport to welcome the Paralympians on their return from Rio, and lined the streets during their celebratory parade was heartwarming.
She said, “Our Paralympians have certainly become our nation’s sporting heroes, and I believe they will continue to inspire many more Singaporeans in time to come.”
Ms Grace mentioned how proud she is towards Yip. She said, “These were unforgettable moments as the Singapore flag was hoisted and the Majulah Singapura was played in the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio. Pin Xiu now has three Paralympic Golds, making her the most decorated Team Singapore athlete at the Olympics and Paralympics. Despite her achievements, she is always humble, grounded and appreciative of the support from her friends and family.”
M Grace also mentioned what Goh had become, “To us all, Theresa is a symbol of commitment, resolve and dedication. To all our aspiring athletes, she is a perfect role model. To Singaporeans, she represents the sporting hero that we all look up to.”
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who is also president of the Singapore National Olympic Committee, also paid tribute at the motion, “For our para-athletes and their families, it is not just in the competitions that they have to strive hard. It is also in the race of life that they cross seemingly insurmountable hurdles, dealing with the simplest of tasks that so many of us just take for granted.”
Mr Tan said that Singapore has made progress towards becoming a more inclusive society. However, some real actions need to be taken by members of the public.
He said, “Just simple actions, like giving way while on the MRT, providing assistance to board the bus, not parking in accessible lots meant for persons with disabilities. Most importantly, it is in our hearts and minds that we need to just embrace our fellow Singaporeans of any ability.”
Jalan Besar MP Denise Phua thanked the Paralympians, “You face greater challenges than typical athletes and deserve recognition similar to or even beyond them. From you, we learnt the lessons of mental toughness, true grit, optimism and self-control.”
Nominated MP Ms Chia Yong Yong, who is also president of the Society of the Physically Disabled, paid tribute to the pioneers of disability sport who performed nearly three decades ago. She said that more can be done than just congratulating the Paralympians.
She also reiterated the call for equal prize money for Paralympic medal winners.
Former president of Singapore Disability Sports Council, Dr Teo-Koh Sock Miang, said “The disabled community are all waiting for the day when everyone will be treated equal, regardless of condition, regardless of special disability needs.”
Ms Foo said that it is not a big issue, although the matter has received plenty of attention. She said, “We’re more focused on competing and doing the country proud. But the prize money would help us in our sport and make us go a longer way, and no matter what amount we receive, we appreciate all the support we get.”
Commenting on the issue, Ms Theresa said, “I did not really expected to be able to come to Parliament to receive such an ovation, and it happened.”
“So I guess hopes are there that there will be a more equal standing of para-athletes versus able-bodied athletes, because it’s not really a competition between us, we all want the same thing. It’s not about the money, generally, it’s just the way the money is used as a form of value, which kind of reflects how they value us,” she added.
The Government had earlier held a motion in Parliament on 15 August to congratulate Joseph Schooling on the Olympic gold medal he won on 13 August in the 100m butterfly final at the Rio Olympics 2016.
Parliament Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth Baey Yam Keng, MP Holland Bukit Timah GRC Christopher de Souza, MP for Aljunied GRC Sylvia Lim, and the President of Singapore National Olympic Council Tan Chuan Jin gave words of felicitation to Joseph Schooling and his family, Colin and May Schooling.