Leonard Thomas: Speak up, Zheng Wen
Singaporean swimmer just misses spot in 200m fly final, and snubs press again
China's golden boy Sun Yang was holding a press conference in one room after his triumphant victory in the men's 200m freestyle, all big smiles and typically playful.
Out in the main arena, in front of a feisty crowd, the second semi-final of the men's 200m butterfly was set to get underway, with the eight athletes being introduced.
Michael Phelps might as well have been Brazilian after his name was greeted with a huge roar.
There were busy cameras and TV crews, and frantic officials in their unmistakable yellow-and-khaki outfits buzzing about in the mixed zone.
It was a picture of organised chaos in the bowels of the Olympic Aquatics Centre here yesterday morning (Singapore time), and I watched, and waited.
The Singapore press once again huddled together waiting for him, and once again, Quah Zheng Wen walked past us all without a word.
He'd just finished the first semi-final of the 200m butterfly, clocking 1min 56.11sec, and was about to discover he would rank 10th overall and miss the final.
Perhaps when he touched the Omega wall, he already knew that he'd missed a golden opportunity to race with Phelps, Laszlo Cseh, Chad le Clos and new Hungarian flier Tamas Kenderesi in the battle of the final eight.
And was distraught.
A competitor like Quah should feel that way.
But competitor supreme Phelps stopped to talk to the army of Americans and others who waited for him.
Colourfully, Phelps called himself a "bonehead" for an apparent mistake that cost him the fastest time overall, as Kenderesi beat him to first place in their semi-final.
Long-time Hungarian ace Cseh, Phelps' dogged shadow over all these years, was full of chatter about his swim, as were so many others.
But Singapore's Quah was silent.
The official from the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) said she would bring out national coach Sergio Lopez, instead, but this was frustrating and a big letdown.
Coaches are important characters in the Olympic play but the main actors are always the athletes.
It must be that way, and we want to hear from them.
Quah set a new personal best in the afternoon heats with a time of 1:56.01. The 19-year-old was impressive, timing his surge perfectly to finish like a contender.
He walked past us then as well, informing the SNOC official that he would warm down, first, before talking.
He surfaced an hour later.
It was extraordinary, after he snubbed us following his swim in the 100m backstroke, where he fared badly in his first event of these Games.
While waiting for Quah on Monday night, there were emotional scenes in the mixed zone as Russia's controversial champion Yulia Efimova broke down in tears after being booed relentlessly over the infamous doping scandal that scarred the build-up to these Games.
She'd just won silver in the women's 100m breaststroke, but was in anguish as she cried in the arms of her agent, and then sobbed in front of the crowd of international press, answering questions.
Quah's Olympic story is hardly over.
He's got the 100m butterfly to go.
His time in the 200m butterfly heats would have seen him finish eighth fastest in the semi-finals and earned him a spot in the fight for medals in the event here.
It bodes well, because in the grand scheme of things, Rio, while important, was always going to be a stop for the talented swimmer, en route to the ultimate battle in four years' time in Tokyo.
His Olympic journey can be a compelling tale, and surely he should engage those who want to tell his story.