Zheng Wen wins 200m butterfly race in Austin
Despite slow time, Singapore teen makes a statement as he builds towards Rio Games
His time wasn't good, but Singapore's Quah Zheng Wen's position in the Arena Pro Swim Series men's 200 metres butterfly yesterday morning (Singapore time) in Austin, Texas, was significant.
The 19-year-old clocked 1min 58.07sec to finish first in the event, beating the likes of Swedish 2008 Olympic swimmer Simon Sjodin, 2013 men's 200m butterfly world junior champion Andrew Seliskar and Olympic backstroke champion Tyler Clary.
American superstar Michael Phelps, silver medallist in the event at the 2012 Olympics, and Quah's teammate, 2016 Olympic prospect Joseph Schooling, did not swim in the 'A' final.
After completing the last day of the meet, Quah said in a tele-conference: "It's good that I managed to race under pressure, keep my head in the game and do what I needed to do amid the big names and the Olympic champions."
"Even though the timing wasn't really that good, it adds to my confidence in the preparation (for the Rio Olympics in August)," added Quah, who clocked 1:56.79 to finish second, behind Schooling, in the event at the South-east Asia Games here last year.
Quah has already made the Olympic 'A' cut in the men's 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly and 200m butterfly.
His main focus for the Olympics, though, will be the 200m butterfly.
The Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro from Aug 5 to 21 and both Quah and national coach Sergio Lopez believe he will go faster by improving aspects like his turns.
Lopez is happy with the way Quah and the other eight national swimmers performed at the three-day meet.
Before the meet, the swimmers had been training with Lopez in the US since Boxing Day.
Referring to Quah, Lopez said: "He's learning how to compete, he's becoming confident and he understands that he belongs at this level, so I'm happy.
"Some of the people he competed against today, like Tyler Clary, he will compete against them again at the Olympics, so it (the win) was very important."
He also praised Pang Sheng Jun, whose 15:49.56 effort in the men's 1,500m free was just off Teo Zhen Ren's national record of 15:43.08, and shy of the Olympic 'B' cut of 15:46.79.
Lopez said: "For him, that is a huge accomplishment. I know he is walking away from this trip knowing that he belongs and he has a chance of making the Olympic team."
Lopez will focus on power and technique in training in the lead-up to the Singapore National Age-Group (SNAG) Championships in March, a crucial Olympic qualifying meet for the Singapore swimmers.
He said: "I really believe they are going to swim very well (at the SNAG)... Many things can happen between now and the meet, but I am very impressed with the way they've trained and there's a big chance of a number of them going to the Olympics."