A day to remember for veteran Yeo and teenager Francis
Singapore swimmer Danny Yeo may not have won a gold medal at the SEA Games last night, but he will surely feel that his bronze medal in the men's 200m freestyle is worth its weight in gold.
The 27-year-old clocked a personal best of 1min 48.98sec at the National Aquatic Centre in Kuala Lumpur last night to finish behind Malaysia's Welson Sim (1:47.79) and Vietnam's Hoang Quy Phuoc (1:48.07).
"I feel very happy that I got a PB, given that the past couple of SEA Games, I wasn't able to win a medal in this event because of injuries, sickness and everything else," said an emotional Yeo after his race.
"So, to get a medal and to go on the podium today, I am really happy."
The freestyle specialist won two relay golds at the 2015 Games at home, but failed to clinch a medal in his individual events, as he was recovering from tonsillitis then.
He was shaping up well to qualify for the Rio Olympics last year, but his campaign was derailed by a bout of dengue fever in January.
Asked what this medal meant to him after his health-related ordeals, Yeo said: "I think just being able to get past everything, and just being able to race against the best in the region, I am just very happy to come away with a bronze.
"I worked really hard the past couple of years."
"It has been a very tough journey," he added, before breaking down momentarily.
"I am just very happy to come back to where I am today and do a personal best."
While Yeo's tale is that of a courageous comeback, his teammate Francis Fong's story was one about a young swimmer on the rise.
The 17-year-old SEA Games debutant pushed his teammate Quah Zheng Wen in the men's 200m backstroke final, and lost marginally - Francis clocked 2:00.49, while Quah, 20, won the race in 2:00.09. Indonesia's Ricky Anggawidjaja took the bronze with 2:02.76.
Quah is the current national record holder in the men's 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke.
"It was an amazing swim; I didn't expect to swim so fast and I am really excited to cut my PB down by so much," said Francis, who lowered his best time in this event by almost three seconds.
"I was hurting from the second 50m onwards, which was really unusual for the 200m back, but I just held my head high and kept swimming.
"It really paid off. I really didn't expect to win the silver medal, and I am really happy."