S'pore swim quartet in line for Asian Games bronze

S'pore swim quartet in line for Asian Games bronze
Singapore quartet (from left) Danny Yeo, Pang Sheng Jun, Teo Zhen Ren and Clement Lim, rewrote the national 4x200m freestyle relay record at the Asian Games in Incheon, on 22 September 2014.

A new national record in the men's 4x200m freestyle relay proved insufficient for a podium spot and they returned empty-handed from last year's Asian Games.

But, six months later, the quartet of Danny Yeo, Pang Sheng Jun, Teo Zhen Ren and Clement Lim are in line for an unlikely bronze medal from the Incheon Games.

Their time of 7min 25.46sec in September had placed them fourth behind swimming powerhouses Japan, China and South Korea.

But they are now set to replace the hosts as podium finishers following yesterday's announcement by Fina that "all results achieved by the swimmer (Park Tae Hwan) on or after Sept 3, 2014 shall be annulled".

That means Park, 25, has been stripped of his six Asiad medals, of which three were in the men's relays.

Swimming's world body also suspended the South Korean star for 18 months for failing a drug test.

While winning a medal in such circumstances is not ideal, Yeo felt that he and his team-mates had done well to finish just four seconds behind the Koreans (7:21.37), who were anchored by Park, the former 400m Olympic champion.

Said Yeo, 24, who clocked a then-personal best of 1:49.68: "It was a great team effort and everyone swam a fantastic race. "We did our best and, even without a medal, we were proud of ourselves."

This will be Singapore's first Asiad relay medal since the 1990 edition in Beijing when Ang Peng Siong, David Lim, Kenneth Yeo and Harold Gan finished third in the 4x100m free.

It explained Clement's delight.

Said the 21-year-old, who like his team-mates has been monitoring the progress of Park's hearings since news broke of the Korean's failed dope test in January: "Sheng Jun woke me up at 4am to tell me what happened. I was so excited I couldn't go back to sleep. "That was probably my last Asian Games and to come away with a medal, even though it happened like this, is very special."

The Singapore Swimming Association's vice-president (swimming) Joscelin Yeo said: "Although it comes six months after the event, this medal will give them the added motivation for the SEA Games in June and beyond; believing that they can succeed at higher international levels."

This is not the first time that local athletes have been awarded medals post-competition.

The men's 4x400m athletics team had finished fourth at the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia but were eventually awarded the bronze after winners Malaysia had one of their runners disqualified for doping.

Clement was also a member of the 4x100m medley team that finished second behind Indonesia at the 2013 SEA Games but were bumped up after one of the winning quartet - breaststroke specialist Indra Gunawan - failed a drugs test.

Meanwhile, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), which organises the Asian Games, has yet to set a deadline for the reallocation of medals.

Its spokesman told The Straits Times yesterday: "Park can still decide to open (his) B sample or not, and even file an appeal after that, so there are still many unconcluded doping and legal procedures in his case. "Therefore, OCA is not in position to announce anything at this moment."


This article was first published on March 25, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.

jonwong@sph.com.sg

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