Quah Ting Wen fails in appeal for Paris Olympics, Latest Swimming News - The New Paper

Quah Ting Wen fails in appeal for Paris Olympics

It has been an emotionally exhausting few days for Singapore swimmer Quah Ting Wen, but there was still no good news for her as it was confirmed on July 8 that she will not compete in the Paris Olympics.

Appeals to Singapore Aquatics (SAQ) and World Aquatics (Aqua) were rejected, with the national sports association announcing that the 31-year-old will be replaced by Gan Ching Hwee, 20, in the women’s 4x100m medley relay team and will miss out on her fourth Games.

SAQ said in a press statement that Quah’s appeal was heard by its appeals committee on July 7, but it was unsuccessful. A separate appeal by the Singapore body to Aqua to reinstate an extra relay-only slot – which would allow Quah and Gan to compete in Paris – was also rejected. 

Singapore will now compete in seven swimming events in Paris – the men’s 50m and 100m freestyle (Jonathan Tan), women’s 100m and 200m breaststroke (Letitia Sim), women’s 800m and 1,500m freestyle (Gan), and women’s 4x100m medley relay (Levenia Sim, Letitia, Quah Jing Wen and Gan).

SAQ president Mark Chay said: “It would have been ideal if we could have sent six athletes to the Games. But... we will have to respect the decision... we urge everyone to get behind our team of five who, I have no doubt, will do us proud.”

Ting Wen told The Straits Times she was “disappointed and emotionally exhausted” by the events of the past few days.

She described the journey from February – when Ting Wen, her sister Jing Wen and the Sim sisters had earned a historic Olympic berth after finishing ninth at the world championships in Qatar – to the latest news as an emotional roller coaster.

She added: “After I signed the documents (by SAQ and the Singapore National Olympic Council) on July 4 to confirm my participation in the Olympics, I thought it was getting real. I signed it and I started to feel excited.”

But a call the following night from SAQ officials delivered the worst news. She will not be on the plane to Paris.

Ting Wen said: “I also don’t feel like it’s fair to the other three girls. I haven’t had any long, extensive talks with my sister yet just because I want her to stay focused. It is still her first Olympics and I want her to go do her best and not be distracted by what I am going through.

“But this just takes away from what we did in Doha. We did a national record there. We said let’s see how far we can push it in Paris. It was a big step for the sport. I was part of the process of getting there and I just wanted to see it through all the way.”

A crestfallen Ting Wen said she has not had the time to think about her next step.

The veteran of three Olympics had previously admitted that the Paris Games would be her last, saying: “If you’re asking me if I will still swim, I know a part of me will not let this be my last experience with the sport.

“I don’t want my career to end like this. But I do need time to process everything. So if you’re asking me if I’m gonna swim for sure next year, my answer is ‘I don’t know’.”

Calling the development “unfortunate”, Chay said: “We understand her disappointment and empathise with her. We look forward to Ting Wen being an important part of our 2025 plans when we host the World Aquatics Championships and compete in the SEA Games.”

Swimmers qualify for the Games if they meet the Olympic Qualifying Time (OQT) or “A” cut and may receive an invitation to compete if they meet the Olympic Consideration Time (OCT) or “B” cut. Of the original quartet, only Letitia met the OQT in the 100m breaststroke.

Under Aqua’s rules, each relay team can field up to two relay-only swimmers. But it earlier confirmed Singapore’s entry for the relay and granted a special exemption for three relay-only swimmers in the team.

However, it subsequently sent an invitation for Gan – also a freestyle specialist – based on her meeting the OCT in the women’s 1,500m freestyle with her national record of 16 minutes and 10.61 seconds.

Hence, SAQ was tasked to choose whether to accept Gan’s OCT invitation or go with the exceptional invite for three relay-only swimmers. In accordance with SAQ’s selection criteria, since the relay team did not meet the two relay-only swimmer requirement, the OCT invitation was given priority over the third relay-only spot, said SAQ.

Its extra relay-only slot, given on an “exceptional basis”, was no longer valid as Gan had accepted the invitation to Paris, said SAQ.

With Letitia and Gan guaranteed spots on the relay team, SAQ’s selection committee met and considered “all permutations for the best outcome” and decided on the line-up: backstroke (Levenia), breaststroke (Letitia), butterfly (Jing Wen) and freestyle (Gan).

Ting Wen, meanwhile, hopes that there will be more clarity in SAQ’s selection policies to avoid a repeat of this incident. In the lead up to the Tokyo Games in 2021, there was also a selection tussle between Gan and Ting Wen, although the circumstances were different.

Then, the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA, now known as SAQ) announced that Quah would go to Tokyo 2020 through a universality place based on her Fina (now known as Aqua) ranking.

Two days later, Fina sent a “B” cut invite to Gan. The SSA selection committee initially picked Gan for the Olympics but Ting Wen had the decision overturned on appeal as the SSA appeals committee took into consideration Fina’s priority order, which was that universality places took precedence over reallocated “B” cut invites.

This time, however, there would be no reprieve for Ting Wen.

She said: “This thing happened three years ago before the Tokyo Olympics... where because of the way the policy was worded, everyone was in this very messy situation.

“Let’s try to make this better because we don’t want this happening again for any other Games, for any other swimmers. 

“Everyone’s gonna fight for what they think is correct. We (the original quartet) got the invites and we signed them. In my mind, that to me was a confirmation.”