Tao Li takes it too easy, fails to make final

A case of over-confidence cost Singapore swimmer Tao Li a place in the 100m butterfly final at the Fina World Cup meet on Tuesday.

It was the first time since the series came to the Republic in 2007 that she failed to make the final on home soil.

The butterfly specialist clocked 58.97sec in the heats, missing a place in the eight-woman final by 0.01sec. It was a significant 1.87sec slower than her silver-medal finish (57.10) in the Doha leg last month and 2.69sec off her personal best of 56.28.

All this because of poor judgement.

"By her own admission, she misjudged it very badly," said national coach Ian Turner.

"On the way in, she told me, '58.9 will get me in the final' and I said to her, '57.9 will get you in the final'.

"She went 58.9 and you know the result."

Asked if he was disappointed that Tao did not heed his advice, Turner replied: "I'm disappointed she didn't make the final, but that's swimming.

"When you've got hundredths of seconds, this is just one of those unfortunate situations that can happen to any athlete anywhere."

In the end, Singapore's swim queen could only watch in disappointment as Katinka Hosszu clinched the gold in 56.58.

Tao's 57.10 and 57.23 times clocked last month in Doha and Dubai respectively would have been enough to secure a bronze last night.

She admitted that she took the heats too easily, although she remains confident that she can deliver when called upon, especially at the SEA Games in Myanmar next month.

"I'm more disappointed with my mental preparation than anything. I was too relaxed," said the 24-year-old. "I didn't go all out this morning because I felt that no matter how I swam, I could make it.

"That said, I'm not too concerned about my overall form. If I had gone all out and clocked 58.97 then, I'd be worried.

"It's not a question of ability. It's about my mental preparation."

She vowed to do better in today's 50m fly, as well as the next World Cup leg in Japan.

The two-time Asian Games gold medallist said: "For the 50m fly, I will be mentally prepared. It's my strongest event. I'll try my best and hope to win a medal."

She added: "I will do better in Japan."

Singapore swimmers who took to the pool on Tuesday included Rachel Tseng, who clocked 8min 45.17sec to finish eighth in the women's 800m freestyle.

Pang Sheng Jun and Quah Zheng Wen also finished eighth in the men's 400m individual medley and men's 100m IM respectively. Pang clocked 4:19.96 and Zheng Wen, 55.77.

siangyee@sph.com.sg

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