Tokyo miss fuels Teong's drive to latest mark

After the disappointment of failing to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, two-time SEA Games gold medallist Teong Tzen Wei has turned setback into success, becoming the first Singaporean to go under 50 seconds in the men's 100m butterfly (short course) yesterday.

He clocked 49.88sec in the final of the 9th Singapore National Swimming Championships (short course metres), bettering his own national record which he had set in the morning heats. Then, he had broken Quah Zheng Wen's 50.84sec mark when he finished the heats in 50.35.

His swim, which came on the second day of the event at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, also meant that he made the 'A' cut, qualifying automatically for next month's Fina Swimming World Championships (25m). That meet will take place in Abu Dhabi from Dec 16 to 21.

It will be the 24-year-old's first outing at the World Championships in the 100m fly and the 50m fly, for which he qualified on Thursday. Then, he had eclipsed Joseph Schooling's 22.40sec mark, clocking 22.24 in the final.

On his record-breaking two days, Teong said: "As much as you want to forget about the past and be present in the moment, the truth is that we are defined by our past experiences.

"I have learnt a lot from my past failures leading up to today - like not qualifying for the Olympics - and even the disappointment of hearing the news that the Olympics was going to be pushed back by a year after training for it. A lot of things didn't go to plan before this."

He also shared that his latest achievement came as a result of wanting to improve after every swim despite how well it went.

Said Teong, who has been training with the National Training Centre coaching set-up of Gary Tan, Sonya Porter, Hungarian Alex Mordvincev, Brazilian Gustavo Schirru and Lionel Khoo, since August: "We reviewed the tapes from the heats and identified what I could have done better, to go faster.

"I trusted my coaches' advice and followed what they said, and it all worked out. The coaches observed that in the last 25 seconds, my underwater speed was faster than my swimming speed. So I was told to stay underwater longer and I followed that advice."

Quah Jing Wen (women's 200m freestyle), Maximillian Ang (men's 100m breaststroke) and Glen Lim (men's 200m free) also sent national records tumbling. The trio also made the World Championships after meeting the 'B' cut times.

Quah's time of 1min 58.52sec in the heats erased her older sister Ting Wen's record of 1:58.80.

In the 200m free final, Lim finished in 1:45.69 and broke Zheng Wen's record of 1:46.08. And in the 100m breast final, Ang's 58.72sec meant that he bettered Khoo's 59.65 record.

Said Ang, 20, a sports and leisure management student in a diploma programme jointly conducted by Singapore Sports School and Republic Polytechnic: "All the hard work has paid off and now I am just really excited because of the qualification for the World Championships.

"I have always wanted to race with the best and see where I rank among them. It is motivation for me to continue to do better."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2021, with the headline Tokyo miss fuels Teong's drive to latest mark. Subscribe