Swimming: Quah Zheng Wen in form as he gets NCAA approval to compete

Quah Zheng Wen in action during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games men's 100m backstroke heats at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug 7, 2016.
Quah Zheng Wen in action during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games men's 100m backstroke heats at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug 7, 2016.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - After more than a month of waiting on the sidelines, Singapore swimmer Quah Zheng Wen finally got the go-ahead compete for the University of California, Berkeley, from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

And he duly stole the show.

The 20-year-old clocked 1min 40.36sec in the 200-yard butterfly at the Pac-12 Invitational on Sunday (Mar 6, Singapore time) to qualify for the NCAA Championships later this month. It is the second-fastest time in the United States of the season, behind University of Texas' Jack Conger (1:39.17).

His 200-yard fly performance sets up a mouth-watering clash with Singapore team-mate and Olympic champion Joseph Schooling in the NCAA Championships. Schooling is the event's defending champion and NCAA record holder (1:37.97).

Quah also clocked NCAA B qualifying times in the 100-yard fly and 100-yard backstroke.

The swimmer left for the United States in January but had been awaiting clearance from the NCAA to swim for the Cal Bears.

There were questions over his amateur status given that he is a brand ambassador for Liberty Insurance. NCAA rules forbid athletes from accepting financial assistance based on athletic skills or participation.

A Singapore Swimming Association spokesman said: "SSA understands that Zheng Wen has received approval on his NCAA application (on Sunday). We congratulate Zheng Wen and his family on this wonderful news and wish him all the best with the Cal Bears at the upcoming NCAA season."