SEA Games: Get ready to rumble!

Boxing had Ali-Frazier, and most recently Mayweather-Pacquiao.

Football now sees Messi being chased by Ronaldo.

Ang Peng Siong recently likened it to the Phelps-Lochte rivalry.

Such rivalries set pulses racing, raises exciting chatter among friends and within families and in offices, and makes for great box-office action.

At the South-east (SEA) Games next month, Singapore will unleash two pool demons who will go head-to-head in the 50m butterfly, 100m freestyle, 200m butterfly and 200m individual medley.

Asian Games champion and Olympic Games medal prospect Joseph Schooling and breakout star Quah Zheng Wen are both primed to make a huge splash at the Sports Hub's OCBC Aquatic Centre when the six-day swimming programme gets underway on June 6.

Schooling, long touted as a possible star of the Games, has been named in nine events, including three relays.

Zheng Wen has upped his game after finishing his international baccalaureate exams last November, and has been pencilled in for an eye-watering 12 events, teaming up with Schooling for the 4x100m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m medley relays.


Swimming legend and former national coach Ang says their duel will help to inspire younger swimmers to try and reach new levels of excellence.

Speaking to The New Paper recently, Ang said: "Joseph has set the benchmark for others here to follow, while Zheng Wen has improved under Sergio (Lopez, current national coach) and will provide healthy competition for him at the Games."

"This bodes well for Singapore swimming, although we are still some way off from the United States or Japan, where there is strong competition for places even at university-level meets," added the head coach of Aquatic Performance Swim Club.

Fellow Olympian David Lim, a highly regarded coach himself, tutored both swimmers at his Swimfast Aquatic Club.

While he agreed with Ang, former backstroke specialist Lim did express concern over Zheng Wen's heavy programme.

"Taking part in 12 events is a lot for anyone, but his coaches believe in him, that he can handle it, and I really hope he does well at the SEA Games," said Lim.

Spaniard Lopez, who groomed Schooling at Bolles School in the US and now coaches Zheng Wen in the National Training Centre squad, said: "To me, competition is competition. I think it will be a good learning experience for both, and I won't back one over the other.

"I think it's also important that they work for the team. It's not about them, it will be about Team Singapore."


This article was first published on May 9, 2015.
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