Last chance saloon for Quah, Schooling
Quah, Schooling geared up for their final event - 100m butterfly
It has now come down to one last event, the 100 metres butterfly, for our swimmers at the Rio Olympics, Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen.
At approximately 1.16am tomorrow morning, Quah will line up with seven others for his heat, hopeful of clocking a fast-enough time to be among the 16 making the semi-finals.
Quah, who owns the national records in the 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke, gave a solid Olympic 200m fly showing on Tuesday that did not come as a surprise to the swimming fraternity.
The 19-year-old had clocked his two best times in the event to go within three-tenths of a second from Schooling's national record of 1:55.73, set at last year's SEA Games.
Quah first swam a personal best of 1:56.01 in the heats to become the first male Singaporean swimmer to qualify for an Olympic semi-final.
Then he maintained his position as the 10th-fastest in the field, narrowly missing out on the top-eight final with a time of 1:56.11.
Quah has also made enough significant strides to stand a chance of making another semi-final.
Last year, he picked up one silver in the 100m butterfly event at the Singapore stop of the Fina World Cup, as well as a bronze at the Dubai stop.
Quah's qualifying time is listed as 52.25sec.
Schooling, whose 100m fly national record stands at 50.96sec, will line up at 1.31am alongside Michael Phelps.
The 21-year-old's bronze medal in the World Championships means he is a genuine Olympic medal prospect.
Schooling had a sampling of what's in store yesterday, when, after qualifying sixth-fastest for the 100m freestyle (48.27), he finished eighth in his semi-final after clocking 48.70 to be the slowest of the 16 semi-finalists.
But the butterfly is Schooling's specialty.
"My butterfly is looking smooth. I did one before coming here and clocked 51.4," he said.
"Swimming here, in an atmosphere like this, with the likes of Michael, I believe I can go faster.
"It's good that I got out there and had a taste of what it's like swimming at night. Now I know the kind of atmosphere and what to expect."
The two teammates are both fiercely competitive, though both show it differently.
While Schooling is chatty and cool, Quah is more reserved.
At the Olympics Aquatic Stadium, he looked downcast after missing out on the 200m fly final by 0.08 seconds.
While he did not speak to the press, he told Channel NewsAsia: "It could have been better.
"I don't know, man. I was just kind of tired. I have to talk to Sergio (Lopez) and break down my swims."
Earlier, on Monday, there was also no comment from Quah after a poor 100m backstroke heats in which he finished 22nd out of 39 swimmers, with a time of 54.38 that was slower than his national record of 54.03.
But assistant national assistant coach and two-time Olympian Gary Tan felt that there was nothing personal about Quah's actions and explained: "There is a misconception of him not wanting to speak to the media after his races.
"I know he is not the kind of person to snub others. It is just that right after a tough race, he needs a breather and think about how he swam.
"It is important for him to focus on his races and go through certain thought processes before he speaks."
Such steely focus will be needed if Quah is to make a bigger splash at the next Olympic Games.
"Having experienced an Olympic semi-final, it will do him a lot of good ahead of Tokyo 2020," said Tan.
"This year, at 19, he is one of the youngest in the last 16 and he should know in four years what it takes to go further.
"He is definitely on the right path."
The same could be said Schooling, of course.
"There is a misconception of him not wanting to speak to the media after his races. I know he is not the kind of person to snub others. It is just that right after a tough race, he needs a breather and think about how he swam."
- National assistant coach Gary Tan on Quah Zheng Wen