National record at Fina World Cup seals Quah Zheng Wen's 2nd event for 2016 Rio Olympics

Quah Zheng Wen's timing in the 100m backstroke has given him entry to another event in Rio.
Quah Zheng Wen's timing in the 100m backstroke has given him entry to another event in Rio.LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE PHOTO

It was his sixth meet in nine months, but if fatigue was catching up with Singapore swimmer Quah Zheng Wen, he was certainly not showing it.

Yesterday, in the Moscow leg of the Fina World Cup, the 18-year-old topped the 100m backstroke heats in 54.13sec.

In the final, Quah went even faster, clocking 54.03 to finish third, behind France's Camille Lacourt (53.44) and Russia's Grigory Tarasevich (54.01).

His time was under the Olympic "A" standard of 54.36, and sealed an automatic berth at next year's Rio de Janeiro Games.

The Fina World Cup is typically a short course (25m pool) meet, but adopted a long course (50m pool) format this year to increase the participation levels and, more importantly, act as a qualifying event for the Olympics.

Said Singapore coach Sergio Lopez: "Zheng Wen's progress is all due to the hard work that he puts in.

"I am not shocked by what he has achieved because I know he has the potential to clock such times. I am very happy and he is definitely on the right track (for Rio)."

Besides the 100m back, Quah has also met the "A" cut for the 200m butterfly. He clocked 1min 56.79sec at the Singapore SEA Games in June to finish second behind national team-mate Joseph Schooling (1:55.73). Both men went under the "A" time of 1:56.97.

Quah's times in Moscow were also new national records, the third time in nine days that the swimmer has lowered the 100m back mark.

Last Monday, Quah clocked 54.40 in the 100m back heats at the Fina World Championships in Kazan to break his previous record of 54.51.

There, he finished 21st overall, and failed to reach the semi-finals.

His new national record is still 1.37sec behind a podium finish at the World Championships - which ended on Sunday - and 1.06sec behind the bronze-medal mark at the London Olympics in 2012.

It also meant that Quah, who was granted national service deferment last month, has improved by more than two seconds in the 100m back since November.

The former Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) had taken a four-month break last year to focus on his International Baccalaureate exams. He clocked 56.17 at last December's Singapore National Swimming Championships, his comeback meet.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2015, with the headline 'Record seals Quah's 2nd Rio event'. Print Edition | Subscribe