Quah to change tack in bid for Rio 2016 breakthrough

Quah Zheng Wen receiving his $35,000 reward from Basketball Association of Singapore vice-president Pang Chin Keong. The Rio Games will be the 19-year-old swimmer's second Olympic outing.
Quah Zheng Wen receiving his $35,000 reward from Basketball Association of Singapore vice-president Pang Chin Keong. The Rio Games will be the 19-year-old swimmer's second Olympic outing. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Quah Zheng Wen is known for competing in multiple events at swimming meets but the Singaporean could be ditching that approach for next year's Olympics.

The 19-year-old has made the Olympic 'A' mark for three events - 100m backstroke as well as 100m and 200m butterfly.

Speaking yesterday at a lunch hosted by Basketball Association of Singapore vice-president Pang Chin Keong, Quah said: "I don't think I'll be swimming in all three.

"I'll look at the schedule with (national coach) Sergio Lopez and then we'll decide. But we're also looking at maybe qualifying for one more event, the 200m backstroke."

At June's SEA Games in Singapore, Quah took the plunge and finished on the podium in all 12 events.

Two months later at the Kazan World Championships, he competed in nine events.

The renewed approach suggests Quah is searching for a breakthrough in Brazil.

After all, it is his second Olympic outing, after competing in London in 2012 in the 200m back and 400m individual medley.

National team-mate Joseph Schooling is also intending to focus only on the 100m and 200m fly.

Quah, who was granted deferment from national service in July, is ranked 31st globally in the 100m fly this year, 25th in the 200m fly and 28th in the 100m back.

His personal best in the 200m back is 2min 00.55sec, off the Olympic 'A' time of 1:58.22.

Next month, he will head to the United States for a month-long training stint.

At yesterday's lunch, Pang, who had earlier promised to reward athletes who win more than three golds at the SEA Games, presented Quah with $35,000 cash.

Under the Singapore National Olympic Council's Multi-million Dollar Award Programme, athletes get monetary rewards up to their third gold medal - $10,000 for the first and $5,000 each for the second and third.

Pang had earlier pledged $20,000 for each individual gold medal starting from the fourth one and $5,000 for each swim relay gold.

Quah finished with four individual golds and three relay golds.

Team-mates Schooling and Tao Li had earlier benefited from Pang's generosity. Schooling pocketed $75,000 (six individual, three relays), while Tao received $25,000 (four individual, one relay).

The businessman said he has plans to reward local athletes who win medals at the Rio Games and the 2017 SEA Games. Details will be revealed closer to the meets.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2015, with the headline 'Quah to change tack in bid for Rio 2016 breakthrough'. Print Edition | Subscribe