SEA Games: Roanne Ho wins S'pore's first breaststroke gold since 2007

SEA Games: Roanne Ho wins S'pore's first breaststroke gold since 2007
Roanne Ho celebrates after winning the 50 breast.

It looked to be an insignificant moment that few would have noticed but, in many ways, it set the tone for what was to follow in the women's 50m breaststroke final at the OCBC Aquatic Centre last night.

With a minor issue in the pool causing a delay to the start of the race, the swimmers were asked to take their seats while officials attempted to solve the problem.

While seven of them continued to prance around and loosen their limbs in anticipation of the race to come, Singapore's Roanne Ho (right) was the only one to listen to the announcer's instructions.

She sat on the chair looking as calm and composed as anyone could be, before exuding an air of confidence when it was finally time to approach the pool.

Staying focused, the 22-year-old touched home 31.45 seconds later ahead of Malaysia's Phee Jing En and Erika Kong to claim Singapore's first SEA Games gold medal in the 50m breaststroke, an event not always offered at the biennial tournament.

It was also the Republic's first gold in any breaststroke event since Nicolette Teo's 100m and 200m double in 2007.

In the process, Ho also became the first South-east Asian female swimmer to go below the 32-second mark.

"Of course, I'm very happy with the win, but I'm even happier with the timing," she told the New Paper.

"I didn't expect to do so well and I think I'm the first (female) swimmer in South-east Asia to go below 32 seconds.

"I've always wanted to do it and I would have been happy even with 31.99, so to do even better than that is amazing."

It was a memorable day for Ho as she had already set a new Games record in the morning's heats, before ending her night on a high by winning the 4x100m medley relay gold with teammates Tao Li, Quah Ting Wen and Amanda Lim.

National coach Sergio Lopez was full of praise for Ho.

"She was exceptional," the Spaniard told The New Paper.


"She broke the national record, the Games record, won a gold and then she still managed to do as well in the medley relay.

"Initially, I think she struggled a bit with the regimentation, but she's been working so hard mentally and, in the last two months, her transformation has been fantastic. It was beautiful."

Asked whether this SEA Games could be her last, Ho, who has a marketing degree, said that she will make a decision on her future after the Games.

"I'm still not sure what my plans for the future are," she explained.

"It's something I will have to assess a few days after the Games.

"I think this timing has qualified me for the World Championships, but I might speak to Sergio to see what our options are.

"But, even if I do call it a day, I'll still be very busy... looking for a job."

This article was first published on June 11, 2015.
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