Underdog Teong triumphs in swimming's blue-riband event
Games debutant wins prestigious 50m freestyle title against the odds
When Singapore swimmer Teong Tzen Wei revealed his targets for the SEA Games to The New Paper ahead of the competition, he raised quite a few eyebrows.
Not only was he aiming for the men's 50m freestyle gold medal, he was also gunning for teammate Joseph Schooling's national record of 22.47 seconds.
Although the 20-year-old had been the fastest Singaporean in this event this year, the full-time national serviceman, who was making his Games debut in Kuala Lumpur, did not train for the whole of last year due to NS commitments.
Last night, Teong made good on one of his two promises, as he put on a stunning race to win swimming's blue-riband event in 22.55sec at the National Aquatic Centre.
Indonesia's Triady Fauzi (22.66) and Vietnam's Paul Le Nguyen (22.90) took silver and bronze respectively, while Teong's teammate Darren Lim was fourth with 23.07.
To put Teong's time in perspective, Singapore legend Ang Peng Siong's previous national record of 22.69 in this event had stood for 33 years, before Schooling clocked the current national mark en route to winning the gold at the 2015 SEA Games at home.
An emotional Teong said after his race yesterday: "I felt like I was on another planet. It was beautiful.
"I came in here with nothing to lose. I was the huge underdog and I just gave it my all.
"I didn't leave anything to luck or fate."
He also thanked his family, his coaches - his club coach Richard Chng and National Training Centre head coach Gary Tan - and his NS unit for their support.
With the gold in the bag, Teong is aiming to make bigger waves, starting with next year's Asian Games.
He said: "That (Asiad 2018) would be my next goal. I will be working to try to go below the 22-second mark."
Among the other Singaporean medallists in the pool last night was another SEA Games debutant Gan Ching Hwee, who claimed a bronze in the women's 400m individual medley with 4min 54.51.
Vietnam's swim queen Nguyen Thi Anh Vien won the race in 4:45.82, while Indonesia's Azzahra Permatahani was second with 4:50.39.
Said the 14-year-old Ching Hwee: "It was a really pleasant surprise because it's been a really tough competition the past few days, especially since this is my first time competing at such a high-level meet.
"I was just thinking for the entire race: Just do it for Singapore, just try to get a medal for Singapore and contribute to the medal tally."
The women's 4x100m medley relay team of Hoong En Qi, Samantha Yeo, Quah Jing Wen and Quah Ting Wen made history last night when they won Singapore's 20th gold medal across the sport's five disciplines - swimming, diving, synchronised swimming, open-water and water polo - at these Games.
Singapore's aquatic athletes have put up their best showing at an away Games in this edition, surpassing their 19-gold haul in Palembang in 2011.
Singapore's medley quartet clocked 4:09.32 to win the race last night, and continued a winning streak that started at the 2003 Games.
Thailand (4:11.67) finished second while Indonesia (4:12.44) took the bronze.
Ting Wen, 25, said: "We are always very proud of this relay, I think we have defended this medley relay (title) for quite some time.
"There was some pressure going into today's race to keep that up, and it was a very good job from my little ones," she added, referring to her younger teammates.
- Women's 400m IM: Gan Ching Hwee (4:54.51, 3rd)
- Women's 50m backstroke: Hoong En Qi (30.10, 5th), Jamie Koo (30.12, 6th)
- Men's 100m breaststroke: Lionel Khoo (1:02.56, 4th), Samuel Khoo (1:03.36, 6th)
- Women's 200m breaststroke: Samantha Yeo (2:32.41, 3rd), Christie Chue (2:35.33, 6th)
- Men's 400m IM: Pang Sheng Jun (4:23.54, 3rd), Glen Lim (4:37.35, 7th)