Yesterday marked the 100-day countdown to this year's Olympics and Singapore swimmer Quah Zheng Wen believes he is more mature and composed than he was on his debut four years ago.
"Knowing that the guy next to you on the blocks is holding the world record, or that he's been a world champion or an Olympic medallist; it's not something you can get used to overnight," recalled the 19-year-old, who raced in the 400m individual medley at the London Games, finishing 33rd overall in the heats.
"I've been competing with a lot of these guys recently at the Asian Youth Games, the World Cup and the World Championships. Racing against them is just experience under my belt.
"That's going to make a world of difference from what it was like in 2012, when I was just a nervous and scared teenager."
He has indeed come into his own since 2012. Not only has he met the 'A' Olympic qualifying time for the 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly and 200m butterfly, he was also the most bemedalled athlete at the 2015 SEA Games, winning seven golds, four silvers and one bronze.
He also won the 200m butterfly 'A' final at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Austin, Texas earlier this year. His recent results have given him confidence to aim high in Rio de Janeiro this August.
"I want to be more than just a participant there," he said. "I want to make a semi-final or a final. I think that would set me up really well for 2020. But I will figure that out after Rio and not think so far ahead."
His Rio aspirations have been given a boost thanks to his new partnership with Liberty Insurance Singapore. Yesterday, he was unveiled as the local brand ambassador of the company.
As part of the deal, he will be the face of their new branding campaign, which comes with the tagline "Embracing Simple Joys" and will featured on print ads, billboards and in-house company materials. The monetary value of the year-long partnership was not revealed.
Said Chang Sucheng, CEO of Liberty Insurance Singapore, "Zheng Wen really spends a lot of time in his craft. The amount of work he puts in on the minute details of how to get better is the same work we put in into insurance. So there were a lot of great parallels between swimming and insurance."
Added Jose Raymond, vice president for finance of the Singapore Swimming Association: "This deal between Liberty and Zheng Wen is one of many to come, and we hope that many more companies will see that our athletes have got lots of potential and value attached to them."
Quah joins a growing number of athletes who are backed by corporate sponsors. Marathoners Soh Rui Yong, 24, and Mok Ying Ren, 27, for example, have numerous sponsors, and both are backed by isotonic drinks brands.