The OCBC Aquatic Centre was quieter yesterday then at any time during the South-east Asia (SEA) Games just two weeks ago.
It was hardly surprising, with the Neo Garden Singapore National Swimming Championships coming so quickly after the Games.
The relative quiet suits Malaysia's Wong Fu Kang, though.
The 16-year-old teenager made headlines across the Causeway when he broke the 15-year-old men's 100m breaststroke national record at the Malaysian Open in Bukit Jalil in March, with his 1min 02.56sec effort going below the Rio Olympics 'B' mark in the event. The hype around him reached fever pitch at the SEA Games at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, when he won Malaysia's first swimming gold, claiming victory in the event in another new national mark of 1:02.46.
The British International School Phuket student became the first Malaysian male breaststroker to win a SEA Games gold since Elvin Chia 14 years ago.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Fu Kang said: "After my win at the SEA Games, I received a lot of messages from my family and friends... I am just 16 and there is a lot of pressure on my shoulders (from all the attention).
"This meet I feel more relaxed than I was at the SEA Games because there isn't too much pressure on me to perform here. It just feels different."
"(To handle this pressure) I will just go with the flow and try not to think too much about it," added the former Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student, who moved to Phuket four years ago.
The SEA Games champion showed his potential when he finished second in the 100m breaststroke B final yesterday in 1:03.04, behind American short-course national record holder Kevin Cordes (1:00.27).
Cordes, 21, clocked the 14th fastest time in the world this year.
Both Fu Kang and Cordes competed in the B final as only the fastest Singapore swimmers make the A finals.
Fu Kang's time was better than the 1:03.15 posted by Singapore's Lionel Khoo when he won the A final yesterday.
The Johor-born swimmer said: "I am swimming the same individual events (50, 100, 200 breast) as I did in the SEA Games and I'm using this meet to focus on my technique and find out my weaknesses."
The 1.82m-tall swimmer has plans to relocate to the United States to train and study.
He said: "I will finish my international baccalaureate in Phuket in about three years and then I plan to study and train in the States."
For now, he is aiming to be only the second Malaysian, after former Asian Games backstroke gold medallist Lim Keng Liat, to make the 'A' Olympic mark, and qualify for the Rio Games next year.
He said: "It's a pretty high target, but my goal is to improve from now until the Olympic period ends."
This article was first published on June 28, 2015.
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