After the pain, Sam shines

After the pain, Sam shines

Eight weeks ago, Samantha Yeo's dream to make a splash at the 2013 South-east Asia (SEA) Games were hanging by a thread after she dislocated her knee.

But, displaying a mixture of bravery, determination and hard work, the 16-year-old made a stunning recovery and she capped it off Sunday night at the Wunna Theikdi Swimming Complex when she picked up a gold medal in the women's 4x100m medley relay and a bronze in the women's 200m breaststroke final.

"It was go big or go home," Samantha told The New Paper poolside, after the penultimate night of swimming at the Myanmar Games.

"I was devastated because when I got injured, we were on the verge of giving up these SEA Games for the good of my long-term competitive future," she revealed.

"We had just two weeks of training and it took a toll on me not just physically but also mentally, because there was also the fear of a recurrence of the injury.

"But I'm really grateful to be back and competing at my third SEA Games. A lot of credit has to go to my family and coach for these two medals.

"All things considered, I couldn't have asked for a better end to my campaign."

In the women's 200m breaststroke final, Samantha was fourth at the halfway mark, but showed great tenacity to fight her way to the podium with a time of 2:34.27, behind Malaysia's Christina Loh (2:32.56) and Thailand's Chavunnooch Salubluek (2:34.21), respectively.

Then, in the women's 4x100m medley relay, the breaststroke specialist put in a hard shift in the second leg -her split of 33.67 was behind only Loh's 32.55 - to retain Singapore's lead.

Ultimately, the quartet of Tao Li, Yeo, Quah Ting Wen and Amanda Lim won in 4:13.02, ahead of second-placed Thailand (4:15.52) and bronze medallists Malaysia (4:17.77).

PRAISE

David Lim, Samantha's coach from Swimfast Aquatic Club, was full of praise for his charge.

"She should be very proud of what she has accomplished, including the fourth-placed finish in the 100m breaststroke a day earlier. "We were ready to give the SEA Games a miss and a lot of people wrote her off, but she fought her way back. We trained three times a day in the last week to make up for lost time in terms of fitness.

"Watch out for her in the 2015 SEA Games at home."

In the other races, Singapore swimming captain Russell Ong went under the SEA Games record of 23.18 in the men's 50m freestyle final, but his time of 23.14 was good enough only for silver as Indonesia's Triady Fauzi Sidiq won in 23.12.

Teenager Darren Lim, 15, finished fifth in 23.58.

Thailand's Natthanan Junkrajang once again proved to be Singapore's bogey lady when she came from behind to beat Quah (2:01.74) and Lynette Lim (2:02.62) in the women's 200m freestyle final.

She had also beaten Quah to the 100m freestyle gold a day earlier.

National swimming coach Ian Turner said: "It was another difficult day at the pool.

"But I'm delighted with Samantha and Russell continued to pull it out of the back with an extremely good swim."


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