Wearing the nation's colours is for professionals

The Olympics are regarded as the pinnacle of an athlete's career. What is to be learnt at the Games? Five recent Singapore Olympians tell The Sunday Times of their key takeaways.

Quah Ting Wen is electing to stay positive after Rio in what will, for her, be an evolving journey in sport.
Quah Ting Wen is electing to stay positive after Rio in what will, for her, be an evolving journey in sport.

It was supposed to be her comeback meet, redemption for missing out on the London Games due to a freak injury when she broke her arm in a surfing accident.

But Singapore swimmer Quah Ting Wen, currently taking a break in the United States, will be the first to admit that the Rio Olympics were far from the cathartic outing she had envisioned.

Despite training overseas for months, Quah clocked 1min 00.88sec in her only event, the 100m butterfly. It was off her personal best time of 59.38sec. She finished 34th out of 45 swimmers and did not make the semi-finals.

While she was disappointed by her showing, having had time to reflect on the campaign, the swimmer is choosing to stay positive.

The 24-year-old said: "If I come away from meets and practice knowing there are things that can always be fixed or improved, then I can always get back into (training) with a positive frame of mind.

"Swimming will always be an evolving journey for me. I learn something every time I race. It can be anything, from pacing to tweaking a dive to correcting the way I handle myself mentally after a bad swim."

There was also an episode where brother Zheng Wen, disappointed after a swim, drew flak for apparently snubbing the Singapore media at the mixed zone.

On hindsight, Ting Wen said "a bad race doesn't mean you don't talk about it," although she hopes compromises can be made between the media and athletes.

She said: "I guess the lesson is that if you want to be a professional in anything you do, you have to deal with both sides of being in the spotlight, especially when it comes to representing your country."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 04, 2016, with the headline 'Wearing the nation's colours is for professionals'. Subscribe