Swimming: 5 things to know about South-east Asia's fastest man Teong Tzen Wei

Teong Tzen Wei after competing in the men’s 50m freestyle final during the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, on Aug 3, 2022. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Teong Tzen Wei is the latest national swimmer to have confessed to consuming an illegal drug.

On Wednesday, Sport Singapore said it had warned Teong, Olympic champion Joseph Schooling and Amanda Lim following their admissions to consuming cannabis while on Team Singapore duty.

The national sports agency also suspended its support for the trio - which includes funding, medical and sports science support - for a month from Oct 1.

Here's more about Teong, 24, who won a total of four individual golds and one silver between the 2017 and 2021 SEA Games and a silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. His achievements, particularly in 2022, have made him the country's top rising star.

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1. He is the first South-east Asian to go under 22 seconds

At the Hanoi SEA Games in May, he became the first South-east Asian man to go under 22 seconds in the men's 50m freestyle en route to winning the gold. His time of 21.93sec also meant that he set a new Games and national record.

Teong also broke the Games record in the men's 50m butterfly, clocking 23.04sec in the one-lap race to break teammate Joseph Schooling's 2017 record by 0.02sec.

2. He dropped out of university to focus on swimming

Teong gained admission to the Bachelor of Business Management programme at the Singapore Management University in 2018, where he was also awarded the Yip Pin Xiu Scholarship.

This meant that he would receive a waiver of tuition fees for four years, as well as a Growth Opportunities Allowance of $12,000, that allowed him to enjoy a wide range of leadership and personal development programmes, and overseas community service projects, student exchanges and school study missions.

However with an ambition to swim full time, he dropped out of the course in 2021.

3. He is one of only three Singaporean swimmers to earn a Commonwealth Games medal

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National swimmer Teong Tzen Wei clinched Singapore's first medal at the on-going Commonwealth Games on Saturday (July 30), after finishing second in the men's 50m butterfly.

Teong clinched Singapore's first medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games on July 30, winning silver in the men's 50m fly final. At the Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Birmingham, he clocked a time of 23.21. England's Ben Proud claimed the gold in a Games record of 22.81sec while New Zealand's Cameron Gray (23.27) took the bronze.

Schooling was the first swimmer from the Republic to win a Commonwealth Games medal, when he finished second in the men's 100m fly in Glasgow in 2014. Para swimmer Toh Wei Soong won a bronze in the men's 50m freestyle (S7) at the Gold Coast edition in 2018.

4. He was previously the laziest trainee

Teong was once branded the "laziest man alive" by current national coach Gary Tan. As an age-group swimmer, Teong would finish a lap, exit the pool and then have a chat as the rest of the group continued their laps, according to Tan.

Tan said: "In his teenage years, I classified him as the laziest man alive. It was more about taking the effort as a coach to help him out, spend time with him to help grow as an athlete."

In an interview with The Straits Times earlier this year, Teong, who has completed his national service, admitted: " I used to be really lazy at training. Sometimes in training, when the sets were long, I would walk down to the Caltex and buy some Old Chang Kee and while everyone was training, I would be eating chicken wings."

But his mentality changed after he won his first SEA Games medal in 2017 when he decided to "give it a real go".

Teong Tzen Wei in action during the men's 50m butterfly final at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. PHOTO: REUTERS

5. Wikipedia-endorsed only in 2022

Despite making a splash on his SEA Games debut in 2017 by winning the 50m freestyle final, it was only in July 2022 that Teong finally had a dedicated Wikipedia page.

Today, his Wikipedia page contains his medal haul at various major Games and championships and details like his height, weight and birth date.

It remains to be seen if this drug episode also makes it onto the page.

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