SINGAPORE - Maximillian Ang was all geared up for the Fina World Swimming Championships (25m) last December - his first race overseas since the 2019 SEA Games - but a bout of Covid-19 cases within the Singapore team left them unable to compete in Abu Dhabi.
After that disappointing ordeal, the 21-year-old is looking forward to a taste of world-class competition again.
Having already qualified for the May 12-23 SEA Games in Hanoi, Ang will feature at the Asian Games too as he met the Asiad qualifying time for the men's 200m breaststroke at the 52nd SNAG Major Games Qualifier on Friday (March 18).
His 2min 13.85sec for the event, which is backed by Liberty Insurance, was 0.01sec below the Games' qualifying mark.
He said: "I felt very lost (without competitions) because there was no race to show me where I stood in the world, South-east Asia and whether I was on the right track.
"The only overseas meet that was held that year was the Fina meet and it was a disaster. I was very disappointed because I felt that I was ready to compete with the world's best."
The Republic Polytechnic student was satisfied with Friday's race, especially since he had raced in and won the 200m individual medley final 45 minutes before, clocking 2:02.66 to meet the Asiad 'B' time at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
Ang, who clinched a bronze medal in the men's 200m breaststroke at the 2019 SEA Games, is now gunning for a gold medal and a meet record this year.
He is also aiming for a podium finish at September's Asiad in Hangzhou, where he hopes to also meet the Olympic qualifying mark.
He said: "I'm very motivated. This gives me a boost because I know that I can do better."
Quah Ting Wen qualified for a second event at the Asiad with her 26.71sec effort in the women's 50m butterfly. The 29-year-old's time also made the cut for July's Commonwealth Games.