Roanne Ho signs off in style with maiden individual gold

She ends Games career with first individual gold and another in relay

THE look on Roanne Ho's face after she won the 50m breaststroke, gleefully slapping the water as she gazed mouth agape at the scoreboard, was one of sheer ecstasy.

And really, who can hold it against her?

Having signalled her intentions to retire after these SEA Games, Ho made sure she signed off in style as she won two golds in two races - both in meet and national record times, no less.

Her first gold came in her pet event, the 50m breaststroke, as she clocked 31.45sec, more than a second ahead of Malaysia's Phee Jing En (32.46). Phee's colleague Erika Kong was third in 32.58.

It was also Ho's first-ever individual gold at the Games.

The 22-year-old then ended the night with another gold - this time in the 4x100m medley relay.

Together with Tao Li, Quah Ting Wen and Amanda Lim, the quartet clocked a Games and national record time of 4min 8.72sec.

Said Ho: "All good things come to an end, and I'm happy with the end result. It's better to end on a high, and I'm glad the two golds happened.

"This is definitely the best night of my career."

Ho thanked her father for persuading her to return to the sport in 2013 after she stopped swimming in 2009 to focus on her studies.

Said Ho: "Most parents would want their children to start working after they graduate from university. But my father told me to give these SEA Games a shot because I have my whole life to work. He really supported me."

While these are her last SEA Games, she might still swim at the world championships in August as she met the 50m breaststroke "A" mark. She will decide after discussing with national coach Sergio Lopez.

Also finishing the night with two golds was team-mate Joseph Schooling, who made it eight wins in eight races.

Cheered on by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who had arrived midway through the meet, the 19-year-old won the 200m individual medley in a Games record time of 2:00.66.

It added to his triumph in the 50m fly earlier, also in a Games mark of 23.49. The University of Texas student is on track for a perfect nine golds and will take to the pool in his last event, the 4x100m medley relay, today.

Said Schooling: "I've exceeded my expectations, performance- wise, so that's always a good thing.

"There's no pressure and I'm excited to finish this tomorrow."

After five days of swimming, Singapore lead the table with 19 golds. With one day of competition left, they have surpassed the record 17-gold haul in the SEA Games era, achieved at the 2011 edition in Indonesia.

Lopez's charges are also two shy of the all-time high of 21 golds, harvested on home ground at the 1973 South-east Asian Peninsular Games, the precursor to the SEA Games.

And they could yet surpass that mark.

Of the seven golds on offer today, the hosts stand a gold-medal chance in four events - the women's 50m free and 100m fly, and men's 50m backstroke and 4x100m medley.

National assistant coach Gary Tan was again mum on medal targets but said: "We were quietly confident of the swimmers' ability to deliver, and they are on track to hitting our target.

"But what's heartening to see is that all the swimmers have pulled their weight and contributed. The mood is high, and it's important we continue moving forward on the last day."

siangyee@sph.com.sg

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Who will rule the pool?

GOLDS

7

EVENTS LEFT

2

ST 20150611 SPTSWIM1102BM 1398932m

NGUYEN THI ANH VIEN (VIE)

  • No. of golds: 7 (from 10 events)
  • No. of events left: 2 (200m breaststroke and 100m butterfly)
  • Likely final tally: 7

A backstroke specialist, the odds are against her in the breaststroke, while in the fly, she is unlikely to get past an in-form Tao Li.


GOLDS

8

EVENTS LEFT

1

ST 20150611 SPTSWIM1107ZL 1398930m

JOSEPH SCHOOLING (SIN)

  • No. of golds: 8 (from 8 events)
  • No. of events left: 1 (4x100m medley relay)
  • Likely final tally: 9

Only a freak outcome like a disqualification can stop the gold going to Singapore - they are that far ahead of the rest of the field.