Therese Alshammar chats with Tao Li after they finished the 100m butterfly final in first and third respectively. (Photo 1 © Singapore Swimming Association/courtesy of Katherine Kee/Fulford PR)
Singapore Sports School, Saturday-Sunday, November 4-5, 2011 — Singapore’s Tao Li and Pang Sheng Jun made the podium to fly the country’s flag at the FINA/Arena Swimming World Cup.
Tao Li won a bronze in the 100m butterfly and followed up with a silver in the same discipline over 50m, while Sheng Jun captured bronze in the 1500m freestyle.
The 50m butterfly final was highly anticipated because Tao Li had clocked a faster time of 25.83 seconds in the morning heats compared to Therese Alshammar’s 25.88. However, the Swede proved the better swimmer in the evening final, touching home in 25.02 with Tao Li second in 25.54. Emmar McKeon of Australia was third in 26.15. In any case, both of Tao Li’s times on Sunday were outside her personal best of 25.47 for the event.
Said Tao Li, who is swimming at the upcoming Indonesian SEA Games: “I feel very happy with my performance; I have one Bronze and one Silver and that was my target which I’ve met. I am competing in nine events next week and I want to win as many gold medals as possible. It will be tough, but I will try my very best.”
Tao Li clocked 57.02 to win the bronze in the 100m butterfly which was also won by Alshammar in 56.03. The 100m Butterfly saw the comeback of Australian swimmer Libby Trickett, who finished eighth and last in 59.03. Despite her showing, the Australian was all smiles as she congratulated Alshammar after the race.
Tao Li was just behind Alshammar for most of the 100m butterfly race before narrowly missing out on a silver in the last leg.
Said Tao Li about the race: “I think I swam pretty well today and I’m swimming against the top eight swimmers from around the world, like Trickett and Alshammar. They are good competition for me, and I think I did a great swim considering that I just switched coach six weeks ago and I am only two seconds away from my personal best.” Her bronze medal is also an encouragement for her impending races at the 26th SEA Games.”
Pang Sheng Jun won a bronze in the men’s 1500m freestyle to become the only other Singaporean to win a medal at the Swimming World Cup. His event was won by Australia’s David McKeon in 14:56.90 while Yuma Kosaka of Japan was second in 15:12.04.
Singapore also had five other swimmers in the final in the shape of Brandon Boon (15:55.39), Benedict Boon (17:02.45), Kevin Ong (17:26.62), Melvin Lee (17:43.33) and Raphael Chau (17:43.34).
South Africa’s Chad Le Clos, 19, was the swimmer of the meet, winning all six events he entered for in Singapore.
Le Clos won the men’s 200m freestyle in 1:43.80, the 100m butterfly in 50.63 and the 200m individual medley in 1:54.06 on the second day.
About his spectacular performance at this meet, Le Clos said: “I think as the events come along, it gets harder as you get more tired. I had great support tonight and it feels like a home game for me. This is my preparation for the Olympics and I am trying to teach myself to race when I’m tired and race good competition when I’m tired. I will be swimming the same programme here as I will do at the 2012 London Olympics.”
Ian Thorpe’s return to competitive swimming saw him attract most of the media attention in Singapore in his first competitive event since retiring five years ago. Thorpe failed to qualify for the 100m butterfly final, finishing 11th fastest in the heats.
Speaking about his performance at the heats, Thorpe said: “I am a little disappointed because I thought I would be a little faster this morning and some things could be technically better. I would have liked to make the finals tonight, but I’m glad that I was able to swim here and swim reasonably well, and produce some reasonable results. This has been a successful meet and I have something really good to work on now for the next two competitions.”
Thorpe also competed in the 100m individual medley, an unfamiliar event for him, finishing out of the medals in seventh with a time of 56.33.
Of the 100m IM, Thorpe said: “I was really happy with the swim then the breast stroke happened and it wasn’t so good. But I’m glad I was able to swim faster tonight than I did in the heats. I was nervous tonight but not near as much this morning.”
Australia finished the meet with the most number of medals at 36 with 12 gold, 16 silver and eight bronze.
Singapore is the fifth leg of the Swimming World Cup series with Beijing next on the agenda (Nov 8th-9th) and the series culminating in Tokyo on November 12th-13th. This is the fifth year that Singapore is hosting this international meet and the two-day event carried a combined prize purse of US$102,000.
Tao Li in action during the 100m butterfly where she finished third. (Photo 2 © Singapore Swimming Association/courtesy of Katherine Kee/Fulford PR)