Raring to roar in Rio

WATCHFUL: America’s Kevin Cordes (right) and Singapore’s Quah Zheng Wen (with microphone) supervising swimmers at a clinic at the OCBC Aquatic Centre yesterday.
PHOTO: The New Paper

He describes himself as laidback and introverted, but Quah Zheng Wen did not mince his words as he expressed his desire to "make a splash" at the Rio Olympics next August.

"I hope to not just be a participant like I was in 2012. I also hope to make a splash there," Quah said in an interview at the OCBC Aquatic Centre yesterday, following a swimming clinic where he dished out advice to swimmers aged between 8 and 15.

The 19-year-old is already on his way to making an impact in Rio, having met two Olympic "A" qualifiying times.

He is set to compete in at least the 100m backstroke and the 200m butterfly events.

Three years ago, he participated in the London Olympics, but did not make it past the 400m individual medley heats.

This weekend, Quah will be taking to the pool for the Fina/airweave Swimming World Cup Singapore.

Earlier, he had won three bronzes in the 50m and 100m backstroke events in the Paris and Moscow stops.

However, Quah does not feel the pressure to make it to the podium in the Singapore leg, preferring to put the focus on his training instead.

"We're just training through, not even taking a day off before that. But, if I win a medal, it'd be great," he added.

In national coach Sergio Lopez, Quah has just the right mentor to get him to where he wants to be. He is not the only one to benefit from the Spaniard's tutelage.

SOUGHT AFTER

American Kevin Cordes had flown all the way to Singapore to seek Lopez's mentoring before the Rio Olympics.

Since June, the 23-year-old breaststroke specialist started training under Lopez, a 200m breaststroke Olympic bronze medallist in Seoul 1988, and has already reaped rewards.

Cordes won a silver in the 200m breaststroke and three more medals at last month's World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

On his way towards helping the US finish second, just behind winners Great Britain in the 4x100m mix medley relay, Cordes clocked 58.63 seconds in the 100m breaststroke leg, more than a second off his personal best of 59.78 in the individual event.

"It has definitely been rewarding to come here," said Cordes.

"It was a bit scary coming across the world.

"But I had a goal in mind, and the medals at the World Championships were very special and it made everything worthwhile.

"Lopez helped me grasp the one-course backstroke, and changed my structure to make it more long-course friendly.

"It's been a lot of attention to detail and getting a plan and sticking to it.

"Lopez has also given me a lot of confidence race after race, keeping me positive."


This article was first published on Sept 27, 2015.
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