SEA Games 2017

SEA Games: Emotions run high as Quah Zheng Wen retains 100m backstroke title

Above: An exuberant Quah Zheng Wen celebrates after winning gold in the 100m men's backstroke after trailing Indonesia's I Gede Siman Sudartawa, who defeated him in the 50m backstroke. Left: Samantha Yeo after taking the silver medal in the 200m indi
An exuberant Quah Zheng Wen celebrates after winning gold in the 100m men's backstroke after trailing Indonesia's I Gede Siman Sudartawa, who defeated him in the 50m backstroke. ST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG
Above: An exuberant Quah Zheng Wen celebrates after winning gold in the 100m men's backstroke after trailing Indonesia's I Gede Siman Sudartawa, who defeated him in the 50m backstroke. Left: Samantha Yeo after taking the silver medal in the 200m indi
Samantha Yeo after taking the silver medal in the 200m individual medley, breaking the national record set by Joscelin Yeo in 2004.ST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG

S'pore swimmer does not mask delight after come-from-behind win in 100m backstroke

The celebration said it all. A roar and a thunderous slap of the water as Quah Zheng Wen showed what a fierce competitor he is, coming from behind to win yesterday's 100m backstroke final.

He had lost his 50m back title to I Gede Siman Sudartawa on Monday, and when he made the turn last night, he was again trailing the Indonesian by 0.17 seconds.

There would not be a second loss for the defending 100m back champion though, as Quah overtook Siman over the final metres to win in 54.81sec.

Siman, who won this event in 2011 and 2013, was second in 54.94sec and Quah's team-mate Francis Fong third in 55.92sec.

On his emotional reaction after winning, which included a finger wag to the stands, Quah said: "A lot of it was just frustration, losing the 50m back. I definitely should have had that. Coming into the 100m, it was going to be me or him, or even a surprise from Francis.

The 20-year-old had begun his career focusing on the backstroke - Quah holds the national record in all three distances - but now favours the butterfly events and rarely trains for the back.

Nevertheless, aptitude and first loves are not easily forgotten.

Quah said: "The time (his national record is 54.03sec) wasn't great for sure but pulling out a win for Singapore was the ultimate goal and I did it, no matter how slim the margin."

Yesterday's swimming events also gave further proof that Joseph Schooling has become a serial record breaker.

The 100m fly Olympic champion was given a tough fight by Vietnam's Quy Phuoc Hoang in the 100m free final before eventually cruising to victory in 48.93sec. Hoang was second in 49.31sec and Singapore's Darren Lim in 50.56sec took the last podium spot.

Schooling, the 2015 winner, became the first male swimmer to win back-to-back 100m free crowns since Indonesia's Richard Sam Bera in 1999 and 2001.

The 22-year-old said: "I put a lot of pressure on myself to win my events. (Hoang) gave me a run for my money tonight. He went a tremendous time so I'm happy to come out on top with the win.

"I've got a rest day tomorrow, going to watch Netflix, I'm hooked on Designated Survivor, and chill and get ready for the (4x100m) medley (on Saturday)."

He then teamed up with Quah, Danny Yeo, 27, and Pang Sheng Jun, 24, to bag the 4x200m free relay in 7:18.94, finishing about five lengths clear of Vietnam (7:25.32) and Malaysia (7:26.91).

It was the Singapore quartet's third consecutive win in the event, thereby extending the Republic's streak to seven editions of the biennial Games.

It gave Schooling his fifth gold in Malaysia, the same as Quah. Both will look to win their sixth tomorrow in the 4x100m medley, the final day of the meet.

Samantha Yeo, however, is still waiting for her first gold at the National Aquatic Centre, after finishing second in both the 200m individual medley and 100m breaststroke final yesterday. She was third in the 50m breast on Tuesday.

That mattered little to the 20-year-old, though, as she sobbed uncontrollably at the magnitude of what she had done: Breaking Joscelin Yeo's last remaining record.

Her time of 2:16.85 in the 200m IM was 0.01sec faster than the national record set by the former swim queen in 2004.

In the 100m breast, Yeo also broke Nicolette Teo's 2007 national record (1:10.15) with her 1:09.44 swim. After composing herself, Yeo said: "It came really unexpectedly for me. It was such an electrifying environment, I really enjoyed it.

"It was really tiring doing back-to-back races but watching (Quah) Ting (Wen) do the triple yesterday and win all her races really inspired me. She told me, 'I believe in you' and that lit something in me."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2017, with the headline 'Emotions run high as Quah retains his title'. Print Edition | Subscribe