By Erwin Wong/Red Sports
Tao Li with Singapore’s first medal of the Asian Games. (Photo 1 courtesy of SSC)
China, Saturday, November 13, 2010 — Swimmer Tao Li won Team Singapore’s first medal of the 16th Asian Games when she finished second in the women’s 100 metres Butterfly final.
The 20-year-old won a bronze in the same event at the last Asiad four years ago, and was on track for a similar finish when she turned after 50m in third place, behind China’s Jiao Liuyang and Japanese Yuka Kato.
Jiao powered home in the final 50m to win the gold, but Tao Li put in the second quickest back 50m time of the field to overtake a fast-tiring Kato to finish in second place. Tao Li’s time of 58.24 seconds was her fastest time of the year by over a second, and 0.22s ahead of Kato.
Tao’s personal best remains at 57.54 seconds which was recorded during her fairytale run at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which culminated in a Singaporean swimmer’s first ever appearance in an Olympic final.
That time was set during the ‘fast swimsuit’ era, and FINA, the world swimming body, have since banned non-textile swimwear since the start of this year, resulting in slower performances across the globe.
“Simply excellent!” said Tao Li after her swim. “I feel I did a good job. I didn’t know that I could be in front of Japan and Hong Kong because they were ahead of me. But I knew I needed to take it one at a time. I have trained so hard for the event and I swam really hard in the last 50 metres.”
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who was in attendance, said: “This is a great start for Singapore and on the first day of competition. My hope is that Tao Li’s performance will spur the rest of Team Singapore on to greater heights during the Games.”
Quah Ting Wen was Singapore’s only other individual finalist on the first day of the swimming competition. She qualified eighth fastest in the 200m Freestyle during the morning heats, and then improved both time and position in the final. Ting Wen clocked 2 minutes 3.73 seconds to finish sixth, but was about a second off her season’s best of 2:02.88.
Two personal bests (PB) were set today as well. 13-year-old Samantha Yeo, the youngest swimmer in the team, broke the National Under-14 50m Breaststroke record when she completed her heat in 33.53 seconds. The previous mark was 33.74 set by Roanne Ho more than four years ago.
Samantha’s new mark is a huge improvement on her previous PB of 34.12 set at September’s Hong Kong Open, and it completes the Raffles Girls’ School student’s ruthless assault on the age-group Breaststroke records. She now holds the Under-14 Breaststroke marks in the 50, 100 and 200 metres, and will have to gun for the Under-17 records once she turns 14 in late January next year.
Backstroke specialist Shana Lim, who herself also holds three Under-14 records, broke her 100m Backstroke PB during the 4 x 100 metres Medley relay final. Shana’s lead-off time of 1:03.08 improves her previous best of 1:03.25 set at last year’s World Championships. Singapore finished fifth in the medley relay.
The swimming competition continues tomorrow with Pang Sheng Jun, Nicholas Tan (100m Butterfly), Clement Lim, Danny Yeo (200m Freestyle), Lionel Khoo and Andrew Lim (50m Breaststroke) featuring for Team Singapore in the morning heats.
Koh Hui Yu, Mylene Ong, Ting Wen and Amanda Lim are Singapore’s representatives in the women’s 4x100m Freestyle relay final.
Men’s 200m Butterfly Heats:
Rainer Ng: 2:04.39 (10th)
Men’s 400m Individual Medley Heats:
Pang Sheng Jun: 4:34.19 (11th)
Women’s 200m Freestyle
Quah Ting Wen: 2:04.70 (8th)
Lynette Lim: 2:05.04 (10th)
Quah Ting Wen: 2:03.73 (6th)
Women’s 50m Breaststroke Heats:
Samantha Yeo: 33.53 (12th, National Under-14 record)
Women’s 100m Butterfly:
Tao Li: 59.42 (4th, season’s best)
Tao Li: 58.24 (2nd, season’s best)
Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay Final:
Shana Lim (1:03.08, PB), Samantha Yeo (1:12.65), Tao Li (1:00.35), Quah Ting Wen (59.06): 4:15.14 (5th)
Quah Ting Wen in action during the 200m Freestyle event. Ting Wen clocked 2 minutes 3.73 seconds to finish sixth, but was about a second off her season’s best of 2:02.88. (Photo 2 courtesy of SSC)
13-year-old Samantha Yeo, the youngest swimmer in the team, broke the National Under-14 50m Breaststroke record when she completed her heat in 33.53 seconds. (Photo 3 courtesy of SSC)
Backstroke specialist Shana Lim broke her 100m Backstroke PB during the 4 x 100 metres Medley relay final. Shana’s lead-off time of 1:03.08 improves her previous best of 1:03.25 set at last year’s World Championships. Singapore finished fifth in the medley relay. (Photo 4 courtesy of SSC)
Team Singapore swimmers rally around for a cheer. (Photo 5 courtesy of SSC)
Swim coach Ang Peng Siong takes a moment to go through his plans. (Photo 6 courtesy of SSC)