Asean Para Games: Newfound focus helps Tan focus on golden double

Benson Tan celebrating his win in the 200m freestyle S14 - his second gold after taking the two-lap event earlier. Swimmers have contributed two-thirds of Singapore's 12-gold haul.
Benson Tan celebrating his win in the 200m freestyle S14 - his second gold after taking the two-lap event earlier. Swimmers have contributed two-thirds of Singapore's 12-gold haul.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Singapore swimmer Benson Tan, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, tends to lose focus during long training sets because of his condition.

However, his coach at Swimfast Aquatic Club, Leonard Tan, said the swimmer has been unusually driven in the past month.

"Previously, I had to keep nagging at him. But I've been using the Asean Para Games to spur him on during training, and I think he knows the importance of the competition, because he became very focused in the last few weeks.

"He was very excited for the Games and to race in front of the home crowd," he added.

That new-found concentration paid off yesterday, as Benson won two of Singapore's four swimming golds on Day Two of the Games' swimming meet.

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  • Swimmers' contribution to Singapore's 12-gold haul after two days.

In fact, he came close to netting a hat-trick of golds at the OCBC Aquatic Centre. Said the swimmer: "It was good and awesome. I like that my family and friends were in the stands to support me."

The 24-year-old touched home in the 100m freestyle S14 final in 1min 1.74sec. He then outswam his competitors in the 200m free, winning in a Games record of 2:14.94.

Malaysia's Yoong Chun Wei was a distant second in 2:25.43.

However, he turned the tables in the 50m butterfly as he narrowly defeated the Singaporean in 30.49sec, 0.06 ahead.

Singapore's Han Liang Chou, who had won the 100m breaststroke SB14 race on Friday, picked up his second gold in the 50m breaststroke SB14.

The 19-year-old clocked a Games record time of 35.23, finishing ahead of Yoong (36.10) and team-mate Lawrence Tay (36.26).

Han's win was all the more impressive as he was involved in three events in yesterday's morning session, going alongside Benson Tan in the 100m and 200m free S14. He finished third in both races and said: "I always do my best to win, and I'm happy because the breaststroke is my favourite event."

Paralympian Theresa Goh rounded up the gold-medal haul as she won the 50m butterfly S5 final in the evening. It was her third gold of the meet and 25th in all.

She said: "Coming into the Games, it's always been about clocking good times, and I'm really happy with my time, considering I haven't been focusing too much on my fly."

The former world record-holder has another four events coming up.

She said: "I'm really tired but this is part of it. You got to manage your recovery, plan so that you rest enough, sleep enough. It's tough but it's not uncommon."

Yesterday's haul at the Aquatic Centre takes Singapore's swimming medal count to eight golds, two silvers and six bronzes, eclipsing their show at the last edition, where they plundered five golds, nine silvers and four bronzes.

It also ensured the hosts stayed on course for a best-ever medal tally. Singapore now have 12 golds, five silvers and 10 bronzes, with four days of competition left.

The highest haul was at the inaugural Games in 2001 - with 16 golds, 10 silvers and 11 bronzes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 06, 2015, with the headline 'New-found focus helps Tan land golden double'. Print Edition | Subscribe