Quah: ‘I’ll be ready for Tokyo 2020’
Quah confident US stint will make him a mentally stronger swimmer
National swimmer Quah Zheng Wen was relaxed and chatty yesterday as he spoke about his decision to move to the United States to study and train at the University of California, Berkeley.
But his tone became somewhat downbeat when he was asked about how he fared at the Rio Olympics last August.
"I know I could have been in the final, for sure, in the 200m fly," said the 20-year-old, who flies off today.
"I should have been in it. I was slower at night (in the semi-finals) than I was in the morning (heats), and I wasn't trying too hard in the morning."
He clocked 1min 56.01sec and placed 10th in the heats, and missed out on the eight-men final after finishing 10th in the semi-finals with 1:56.11.
"If I had been in the final, anything could have happened... it was all about mental game at that point.
"I only wish I wasn't so on the edge as I was in the semis, but... I was glad for the opportunity, and I will definitely be ready for Tokyo 2020."
The chance to train and race with the world's best swimmers, and being able to balance sports with studies were big factors in the two-time Olympian's decision to move to the US.
"When you do as these guys do - train with them, eat with them, sleep with them - good habits rub off. I'll definitely be picking up things in and out of the pool that would help me in my ultimate goal."National swimmer Quah Zheng Wen on what studying and training in the US can do for him
Accompanied first by his elder sister Ting Wen, and then his mother on a separate trip, Quah visited American universities such as Stanford, Auburn and Arizona State after the Olympics, before he decided on Berkeley in November.
The Cal Bears finished second to University of Texas, which Singapore's Olympic champion Joseph Schooling swims for, in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) team championships in the last two seasons, and are coached by four-time NCAA Coach of the Year David Durden.
Current members of the team include Olympic champions Ryan Murphy and Tom Shields.
On the prospect of training with the duo, Quah said: "I think it would put me in a pretty good state just training with these guys.
"When you do as these guys do - train with them, eat with them, sleep with them - good habits rub off.
"I'll definitely be picking up things in and out of the pool that would help me in my ultimate goal."
The Singaporean, however, leaves for the States uncertain about his NCAA eligibility.
Quah explained that, among other things, he had competed in professional meets after graduating from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) in end-2014, and NCAA rules dictate that student-athletes competing in its meets must be amateurs.
Whether he is eventually deemed eligible for NCAA meets or not will have a direct bearing towards his partial scholarship, as well as his immediate plans towards the Fina World Championships in Budapest, Hungary this July.
"I am pretty hopeful I will (be eligible), it looks pretty positive so far," said Quah, who plans to study biology and chemistry in the university's College of Letters and Science.
"I am hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst. We just really have to wait and see, but I am pretty confident that we will have a positive result."
The lanky swimmer - who won seven golds, four silvers and a bronze at the 2015 South-east Asia Games at home - promised that he will be back for the biennial Games in Kuala Lumpur this August.
Quah said: "This isn't just about me going away to chase my own dreams, I also still want to be here for Singapore.
"That's always been at the forefront of my mind."