After seven weeks of waiting, national diver Freida Lim finally received confirmation that she is headed for the July 23-Aug 8 Tokyo Olympics when the Singapore Swimming Association announced her qualification yesterday.
The 23-year-old had placed 15th in the women's 10m platform semi-final at the Fina Diving World Cup in Tokyo on May 5, but was unsure if she had earned her ticket to the Olympics, given some ambiguity in the guidelines of world governing body Fina's qualification system.
An hour after receiving the news yesterday, Lim told local media she was relieved to finally receive formal confirmation from Fina, but had been fairly confident she would get the nod as she felt her World Cup placing was "pretty solid".
The uncertainty did not affect her training, she added, partly because about half of it was spent serving her 21-day stay-home notice (SHN) upon the diving contingent's return from the World Cup.
"I definitely thought about it, because people kept asking me if I was going or not, so it definitely lingered," she said. "But I feel it didn't really affect my training, or affect me mentally."
At the World Cup, Lim placed 15th in a field of 18 with a five-dive score of 272.35, and while it was not enough for her to advance to the 12-woman final, based on calculations then, she appeared to have done enough to earn a berth in Tokyo.
But question marks remained as Fina's qualification guidelines stated then that "up to 18" highest-placed athletes at the World Cup would each obtain one quota place for their countries, with no final word on the number of final competitors at the Olympics.
Lim, who last month graduated from the University of Georgia with a double degree in dietetics, culinary science and nutrition, will be Singapore's first women's diver at the Olympics.
She joins fellow trailblazer and 10m platform diver Jonathan Chan - the first Singaporean from the sport to qualify for the Games when he did so in 2019.
National diving head coach Li Peng said yesterday that he has set a target for Lim and Chan to make the semi-finals. "I know it's very hard, but we will do our best," said Li, who previously coached Britain's diving team and worked with two-time Olympic bronze medallist Tom Daley.
While acknowledging her coach's target, Lim said she is simply focused on trying to repeat the level of performance she displayed at the World Cup.
"I'm not really set on a place or the semis, and if I can go anywhere close to my best, I'll be very happy," she said.
Singapore's contingent for the Tokyo Olympics currently comprises 21 athletes, including Lim, and a few more may be added to the list before the qualification window for the Games closes next Tuesday.