By Ng Enna/Red Sports
Singapore’s Rainer Ng waves to supporters in the crowd after the second Men’s 50m backstroke semi-final where he clocked 26.37s to qualify for the final. (Photo © SPH-SYOGOC/Jeremy Chan)
Singapore Sports School, Tuesday, August 17, 2010 — Rainer Ng was all smiles when he finished first in his Men’s 50m backstroke semi-final with a time of 26.37 seconds.
Rainer was significantly smaller-built than his counterparts in the race, but that did not stop him from topping the field. He appeared to be brimming with confidence when he was introduced to the crowd and his supporters cheered him on enthusiastically.
“I was trying to instill confidence in myself because I was actually feeling a bit nervous. I was also really motivated by the supporters and hearing them cheer so loudly for all the Singapore swimmers just gives us an adrenaline rush,” said an appreciative Rainer.
Despite missing out on qualification for last Sunday’s 100m backstroke final, the 18-year-old student from Raffles Institution (Junior College) put up a spectacular performance to finish first in his semi-final.
Rainer looked very pleased with his performance and waved enthusiastically to his supporters, who were hysterical at the sight of the first Singaporean to win a swimming semi-final, and become the first local swimmer in the final of an individual event at these Games.
His time of 26.37 seconds is also a new national record. It bettered his own previous national mark of 26.59 seconds set at the National Schools meet in April.
Rainer said, “I think I did my best time this evening so hopefully I can improve again tomorrow.”
Rainer qualified second overall for tomorrow evening’s final, and places Singapore in good stead for their third medal of the Youth Olympic Games.
However, Rainer knew that he could not be complacent.
“It (coming in first) was a good morale booster for me but I cannot underestimate the rest of the opponents because tomorrow would be a new day, they would be fresh again and ready to race. And now that they are more aware of their competitors, they would be more alert and really concentrate on their race,” Rainer explained.
In other evening events, Amanda Lim improved on her morning’s performance. She swam a 29.34 in the Women’s 50m butterfly semi-finals, 0.14 seconds faster than her heat time. It was also 0.04 seconds away from her personal best.
“I think I did well because the butterfly was not my pet event,” commented Amanda, a freestyle specialist.
She added, “I just told myself to give it my best shot and to clock a personal best if possible.”
Clement Lim replicated his 14th placing in the men’s 50m Freestyle heats with a similar finish in the semi-finals. He also very nearly clocked the same time of 23.86 seconds, registering a 23.87 in the semi-finals.
Rainer and Clement then put in another good shift when they combined with Arren Quek and Pang Sheng Jun to finish a commendable seventh place in the Men’s 4x100m freestyle relay final. The quartet clocked 3 minutes 27.46 seconds, bettering their heat time of 3:28.66.
Arren, the lead-off swimmer, was third off the blocks but dropped to the sixth position after 50m. The rest of the field caught up with Arren, who was in last place when Sheng Jun took over. The latter swam at a consistent pace but was still unable to make up significant ground.
Despite his earlier, stupendous effort in the 50m backstroke, Rainer still managed to find an extra gear to overtake Canada’s Thomas Jobin in the final stretch of the third leg. Rainer’s split of 52.21 was over a second quicker than his heat equivalent.
Clement then maintained his position in the last leg to lead the team to a seventh place finishing. His astonishing final leg split of 50.35 – 0.2 seconds quicker than his leg in the heats – surpassed Zach Ong’s 2009 split time of 50.48, and is the fastest ever swam by a Singaporean in a relay.
The team were pleased with their performance as they have given their best, and acknowledged that their opponents’ abilities were “not within their control”.
“We were more pumped up in the final and we did better than the race in the morning. We improved the team timing by at least a second so we are really happy,” Sheng Jun stated.
The quartet will also swim the 4x100m medley relay tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s programme will start at 9.31am with the Women’s 50m backstroke heats at the Singapore Sports School.