Boost for Zheng Wen

Boost for Zheng Wen
Singapore National swimmer Quah Zheng Wen.
PHOTO: Lianhe Zaobao

He was already prepared to take a ferry to Pulau Tekong tomorrow to report for his National Service.

Instead, swimmer Quah Zheng Wen will be booked on a flight to Kazan, Russia, where he will compete in the Fina World Championships from July 24 to Aug 9.

The 18-year-old Singaporean, who won seven gold, four silver and a bronze medal at the SEA Games here last month, was yesterday granted a deferment from his NS till Aug 31 next year.

The postponement will allow the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) graduate to train full time for the World Championships and the Rio Olympics, where he has already qualified for the men's 200m butterfly.

"I heard from MCCY (Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth) when I was having lunch today," said Quah, after training at the OCBC Aquatic Centre last evening.

"I've already accepted that I was going to enlist and I didn't mind, but the call came and I was happy that the effort put in by everyone has paid off.

"I will do my best to meet the expectations of everyone and not to let anyone down."

In a statement, Mindef said that the Armed Forces Council (AFC), chaired by Mindef, had taken the decision after reviewing Quah's application.

It said: "Mr Quah has satisfied the conditions for deferment of exceptional sportsmen who can win honour for Singapore, as his recent performances were better than the most recent Olympic Games' qualifying times in the 200m butterfly."

Quah met the Olympic 'A' qualifying time of 1min 56.97sec at the SEA Games, where he finished second with 1:56.79, behind teammate Joseph Schooling.

His performance ranks him 20th in the world in the event this year, while Schooling's 1:55.73 effort puts him in eighth spot.

National swim coach Sergio Lopez was delighted with the news, as it means he can now make concrete plans for his swimmer leading up to the Olympics.

PLAN

The Spaniard said: "Zheng Wen and I... took it one day at a time (before the news of deferment), and whatever happened, we would make a plan.

"Now, the plan is to work towards Rio, and make sure he peaks at the right time."

While Quah has qualified for only one Olympic event so far, Lopez said he will keep working on the swimmer's backstroke events - his forte - as well as the 100m fly.

Lopez said: "His 100m back is very good; in six months, he's improved 1.5 seconds... if he can improve another 1.5 seconds, he would be clocking 52.90, and that's pretty much a podium position at the Olympics."

Improving Quah in the 100m free event is also crucial, as the men's 4x100m free, 4x200m free and 4x100m medley teams bid to qualify for the Olympics, which will be a first for Singapore if they succeed.

Lopez said: "For a couple of our relays at the SEA Games, we were (just off) what would have qualified us for London 2012, and that's a good sign.

"We can do a lot better."

sayheng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 8, 2015.
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