SEA Games 2019

Quahs make splash in unison with first swims

Top: The youngest of the Quah siblings, Jing Wen, started the gold rush in the pool by retaining her 200m butterfly title in the first final. Above: Ting Wen, the eldest, set a 100m freestyle SEA Games record of 54.74sec, taking 0.01 off the time she
Zheng Wen not only won the 100m backstroke but also broke the Singapore record and qualified for next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Top: The youngest of the Quah siblings, Jing Wen, started the gold rush in the pool by retaining her 200m butterfly title in the first final. Above: Ting Wen, the eldest, set a 100m freestyle SEA Games record of 54.74sec, taking 0.01 off the time she
The youngest of the Quah siblings, Jing Wen, started the gold rush in the pool by retaining her 200m butterfly title in the first final.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Top: The youngest of the Quah siblings, Jing Wen, started the gold rush in the pool by retaining her 200m butterfly title in the first final. Above: Ting Wen, the eldest, set a 100m freestyle SEA Games record of 54.74sec, taking 0.01 off the time she
Ting Wen, the eldest, set a 100m freestyle SEA Games record of 54.74sec, taking 0.01 off the time she set in the heats.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

It was a Quah family affair on the first day of the swimming competition, with siblings Ting Wen, Zheng Wen and Jing Wen striking gold in SEA Games record times yesterday.

The youngest of the trio, 18-year-old Jing Wen, won the first final, the women's 200m butterfly. She clocked 2min 10.97sec to edge out Philippine hope Remedy Alexis Rule (2:10.99) with Vietnam's Le Thi My Thao third on 2:12.70.

Zheng Wen then captured the men's 100m backstroke gold in 53.79sec, a Singapore and meet record. Vietnam's Le Nguyen Paul (54.98) and Indonesian Gede Siman Sudartawa (55.68) were just behind. He also earned a spot at the 2020 Olympics by going under the A qualifying mark.

The 23-year-old, who endured a disappointing campaign at the world championships in July, said: "Seeing my younger sister swim the 200m fly was really impressive and fired me up. It's definitely a relief qualifying for the Olympics and I don't have to worry about it, though it's not the event I was looking at.

"I want to go to Tokyo and do something but, for now, I'll keep my focus on the next five days."

Ting Wen, 27, winner of 16 Games golds, claimed the women's 100m freestyle final in a meet record of 54.74sec, but missed out on the Olympic A mark of 54.38.

Teammate Cherlyn Yeoh, 18, was second in 55.55 followed by Filipino Jasmine Alkhaldi (55.76).

Zheng Wen later teamed up with Joseph Schooling, Jonathan Tan and Darren Chua to win the men's 4x200m free in a Games mark of 7:17.88 ahead of Vietnam (7:21.51) and Malaysia (7:27.55).

Ting Wen was happy to share the limelight with her siblings: "I'm so proud of my brother, he's had kind of a down two years. I know he's been working very hard for the last three months.

"I'm happy for him."

Singapore Swimming Association head coach Gary Tan was happy to see a flurry of gold medals.

Hailing the performance of the Quahs, he said: "All three have been swimming for some time and they've really stepped it up."

He warned it was too early to tell if his squad could match their 19-gold haul from 2017. He said: "It's going to be a tough fight. We expect the push from other teams.

"Philippines' swimmers are really good, Vietnam is coming close, so we just need to keep working hard."

Schooling, 24, is gunning for his fourth 50m fly title today. He will also race in the 100m fly, 100m free and two more relays.

"It's always nice to get a 200m race out of the way for sure," he said with a grin. "The goal is also to qualify for the Olympics at this meet, Zheng did a great job qualifying for the 100m back and now it's time for the rest of us to do the same."

The home fans were also rewarded for their boisterous support at the New Clark City Aquatics Centre as James Deiparine ended the hosts' 10-year wait for a swimming gold. He won the 100m breaststroke in 1:01.46 ahead of Vietnam's Bao Thanh Pham (1:01.92) and Singapore's Lionel Khoo (1:01.98).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2019, with the headline 'Quahs make splash in unison with first swims'. Print Edition | Subscribe