Singapore Sports School, Wednesday, June 13, 2012 — Singapore bagged five out of eight golds up for grabs on Day 1 of the Southeast Asia (SEA) Swimming Championships.
Recently crowned Sportsboy of the Year, Quah Zheng Wen, clinched the gold medal in the 400m individual medley event. The 15-year-old started his race strongly and and finished with a time of 4 minutes 27.62 seconds to beat fellow Singaporean Jeremy Kevin Matthews to the finish line by 0.61 seconds.
In the Men’s 200m backstroke event, Zheng Wen faced off with SEA Games gold medallist, I Gede Siman Sudartawa of Indonesia. Zheng Wen had got off to a strong start and built up a sizeable lead after three laps. However, Siman caught up in a sensational fourth lap, with his powerful strokes shaving off Zheng Wen’s lead bit by bit.
The two swimmers were neck and neck in the final stages, but it was Siman who eventually inched ahead of Zheng Wen to finish first in a time of 2:03.87, just 0.09 seconds ahead.
A disappointed Zheng Wen vowed to do better in the days ahead. He said: “I wanted to lower my timings, but I increased the timing instead, so I’m disappointed. [But] today is in the past though. At least after today, I know what I can work on, and which part of my training program to alter. There’s no point moping. I will focus on the future races.”
Zheng Wen’s national records in the 400m IM and 200m backstroke stand at 4:21.70 and 2:01.18 respectively.
Singapore’s female swimmers also had a good day in the pool. Mylene Ong Chui Bin won the 100m freestyle event with a timing of 56.02, a whisker off her personal best of 55.70. Mylene was satisfied with her performance, but indicated she could do better.
The 20-year-old said: “I expected to do better, but I’m still happy with my time. Coach Fang (Hai Jia) told me I rushed my start, and my strokes were not coordinated.”
Mylene’s coach Fang Hai Jia, 53, felt that she did well considering the circumstances — the swimmer was recovering from flu prior to the event. He commented: “I think she was affected slightly by the flu. She also started too quickly at first, and this may be why she couldn’t better her personal best time. I still think she can make the Olympic cut with her personal best. In fact, she stands a very high chance if things don’t change drastically.”
Singapore’s men and women’s relay teams rounded off the day with two first-place finishes. The men’s team, comprising Danny Yeo, Teo Zhen Ren, Pang Sheng Jun, and Jeremy Kevin Mathews, won with a timing of 7:30.79 in the 4x200m freestyle relay, more than four seconds ahead of second-placed Malaysia.
Their collective effort was just a shade over the current national mark of 7:30.73, set by Joshua Lim, Clement Lim, Zach Ong and Marcus Cheah at the 2009 South-east Asian Games.
Danny’s lead-off leg of 1:50.54 was a new personal best and an improvement on his previous Olympic ‘B’ time of 1:50.73. It was also just off the national mark of 1:50.41, set by Bryan Tay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The women’s quartet of Koh Hui Yu, Shan Teo, Marina Chen, and reigning Sportsgirl of the Year, Amanda Lim, beat Indonesia with a timing of 8:21.67.
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