Swimmer Quah to compete in 12 SEA Games events

Swimmer Quah to compete in 12 SEA Games events
Swimmer Quah Zheng Wen

Singapore swimmer Quah Zheng Wen was once dubbed "Iron Nose" by his national team-mates after emerging unscathed when a medicine ball dropped on his nose.

But after next month's SEA Games, the nickname could take on an altogether different meaning.

The 18-year-old, who holds five national records, is set to swim in 12 events at the biennial meet, the most attempted by a Singapore swimmer. That means racing at least 1,900m - excluding heats, which would almost double his workload - in six days.

Despite the gruelling programme, national swim coach Sergio Lopez is confident Quah can deliver medals in his events.

Said Lopez: "If I didn't think he could do it, I would've talked to him about it.

"He's fit, mentally strong, he wants to do it, and he's earned his spot.

"He even had to drop the 100m butterfly because he has two other events that day. He's excited, and he's ready to do Singapore proud."

The swimmer is part of a record 748-strong contingent which will represent Singapore on home soil next month at the SEA Games.

The squad is significantly larger than the 483-strong party which represented Singapore in 1993, the last time the Games was held here.

This year, the hosts will be represented across all 36 sports.

Said Chris Chan, secretary-general, Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC): "We wish all athletes and officials the best in their final preparations and we are looking forward to flying Singapore's flag high at the upcoming SEA Games on home ground."

Chan said while the SNOC has set the third-place result at the last SEA Games as the qualifying benchmark, the SNOC selection committee adopted a slightly different approach this year and were more extensive in the benchmark margin. This is to allow more athletes to compete in front of the home crowd, yet at the same time preserve the standards of the contingent.

He said: "All the national sports associations have put in a lot of effort. The athletes really want to compete in front of the home crowd. For some of them, they might never get a chance again.

"Not all of them will be winning medals, but we are confident they will go out there and put up a good fight."

In 1993, Singapore's athletes bagged 50 golds in what was their best-ever showing. They are expected to at least match that this year.

Traditional gold mines such as swimming, table tennis, and sailing are expected to chip in, while the emergence of world beaters over the past year, such as Asian Games gold medallist Joseph Schooling, Youth Olympic Games champions Bernie Chin and Samantha Yom (sailing), and world junior pool champion Aloysius Yapp, will raise hopes.

But Chan is also looking at the big picture. He said: "For many of the sports who haven't always achieved what they wanted, you have to start somewhere.

"For those who have never won a medal, a first bronze might spark off something and do the sport a world of good."

siangyee@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 6, 2015.
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