By Les Tan and Erwin Wong

Tao Li in the final of the women’s 100m butterfly. She clocked 58.33 to win her first of two silvers over the weekend. (Photo 1 © Low Sze Sen/Red Sports)


Singapore Sports School, November 10-11, 2012 — Singapore’s Tao Li, 22, won two medals over the weekend in the Singapore leg of the Fina/Arena Swimming World Cup.

On Saturday, in front of a noisy home crowd of 1,200, Tao Li clocked 58.33 seconds to finish second in the women’s 100-metre butterfly. Jeanette Ottesen Gray of Denmark was first in 57.75.

“I did not really expect to finish on the podium, especially after I finished fifth in the heats this morning. I’m very happy. I only realised I got second when I got out of the pool and head the crowd,” said Tao Li, who had not trained intensely prior to the event. “It’s a good crowd, and seeing Singaporeans come out and cheer for us is a huge motivation.”

On the second day of competition, the butterfly specialist won her second medal, finishing second with a timing of 25.78 in the women’s 50m butterfly. Denmark’s Jeanette Ottesen Gray again was first with a timing of 25.42 and Inge Dekker of the Netherlands finished in third with 25.92.

Tao Li, who had clocked the fastest time in the heats, said: “I tried really hard for gold, but Jeanette was too fast! I’m happy with my results. My target was to win one medal, so to get two silvers, I think I did well. My biggest motivation was to swim well for the Singaporeans who came to support us. I just wanted a Singaporean to be on a podium, because we are swimming in Singapore after all.”

Singapore won four medals in all. Apart from Tao Li’s two silvers, Jerryl Yong added a bronze in the men’s 200m butterfly while a mixed 4x50m freestyle relay team consisting of Mylene Ong, Amanda Lim, Arren Quek and Danny Yeo, added another bronze.

Pang Sheng Jun and Samantha Yeo each broke two national short course records over the weekend.

Sheng Jun, 20, smashed his month-old 400m individual medley record of 4 minutes 21.47 seconds with his 4:17.88 swim in the final on Saturday. He placed fifth.

A day later, he again finished fifth in the 1500m freestyle final in a time of 15:22.53, which was over seven seconds quicker than his previous mark of 15:30.07 set two years ago.

Samantha, a Secondary Three student at Raffles Girls’ School, went three hundredths of a second below her four-day-old 50m Breaststroke record of 32.75 seconds in the heats on Sunday morning.

She did not qualify for that final, but did so in the 200m breaststroke and went on to set a national mark of 2:29.74. Samantha’s previous national record was 2:30.14 set in August.

Kenneth To, 20, of Australia and Katinka Hosszu of Hungary were crowned the men’s and women’s overall winners after scoring 195 and 186 points respectively in the eight-leg series that concluded in Singapore. They each took home prize money of USD100,000.

The Swimming World Cup started in Dubai (2-3 Oct), moved on to Doha (6-7 Oct), Stockholm (13-14 Oct), Moscow (17-18 Oct), Berlin (20-21 Oct), Beijing (2-3 Nov), Tokyo (6-7 Nov) and culminated in Singapore (10-11 Nov).

To, who held a 20-point lead over George Bovell of Trinidad and Tobaga coming into the Singapore leg, was able to cement his position at the top with a second-place finish in the men’s 100m butterfly event tonight. To won three medals at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games and was competing in the whole series for the first time.