Swimming: Quah eyes longer runway

Quah Ting Wen setting a new national record of 55.52sec in the 100m freestyle in March's National Age Group Championships. Training overseas for most of the past eight months has paid off with her gaining an Olympic spot.
Quah Ting Wen setting a new national record of 55.52sec in the 100m freestyle in March's National Age Group Championships. Training overseas for most of the past eight months has paid off with her gaining an Olympic spot.ST FILE PHOTO

Resurgent Ting Wen wants more after Rio but she won't commit to 2020 bid

Singapore swimmer Quah Ting Wen's comeback from a freak surfing accident in 2011, which shattered two bones in her left forearm, has not been smooth sailing.

At the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar, she was second-best in her four individual events, a horrible result by her admission.

A four-gold haul last year went some way to restoring her confidence, but an inability to clock an 'A' time to cement qualification for the Rio Olympics proved vexing.

However, after training overseas for much of the past eight months, which culminated in her being awarded Singapore's sole universality place at the Games, Quah said she could extend her career.

The 23-year-old, who clocked 'B' times in four events, said in a phone interview from Paraguay, where she and brother Zheng Wen are training and acclimatising ahead of the Aug 5-21 Rio Games: "I found that I was still learning things every day in training; there's always something to improve on.

"That realisation has helped a lot of us, especially the older ones, know that we can improve and even swim a little bit longer than we thought we could."

A HAPPY ENDING

I'm a little bit upset that I didn't qualify the way I wanted to. I'm very hard on myself, I set my goals pretty high.

QUAH TING WEN, whose 'B' times were not fast enough to qualify for Rio on merit.

She stopped short of setting her sights on the 2020 Games, only to say it would be "awesome" to compete in Tokyo.

Confirming her spot in Brazil, her second Olympic outing, was a bitter-sweet moment for Quah, who made her SEA Games debut in 2005 and Olympic bow in 2008.

The Singapore Swimming Association nominated her for a universality place, given to Singapore as no local female swimmer qualified.

She said: "I'm a little bit upset that I didn't qualify the way I wanted to. I'm very hard on myself; I set my goals pretty high.

"But that's history now... (national coach) Sergio (Lopez) has prepared us well and I'm excited to see what I can do in Rio."

The 13-time SEA Games gold medallist will be swimming in the 100m butterfly, and aims to go as far below 59 seconds as she can. Her personal best is 59.38sec.

The national record, held by Tao Li, is 57.54sec, but that was set in 2008, during the era of the now-banned supersuits.

Zheng Wen has set himself a target of reaching at least the semi-finals of his three events - the 100m backstroke, and 100m and 200m fly.

He said: "I know I have the potential to do really well. I just want to have all the hours I put in come together in the pool and be the best I can be at that point in time.

"I hope to make the top 16 or even the top eight in my events.

"That will be pretty insane and is definitely something I'm keeping in mind."

With less than three weeks left to the Olympics' opening ceremony, Lopez, who will step down after the Games, is remaining calm.

Asked if preparations were going well, he joked: "We're working on our dance moves, like flamenco."

He added: "It's not so much how much we do, but how we do it.

"Right now, more than anything, we're working on the details, getting some speed out, visualising the races, like turns, and making sure they can be as rested and (are in the) best shape possible."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2016, with the headline 'Quah eyes longer runway'. Print Edition | Subscribe