SEA Games 2023: Quah Zheng Wen’s fighting spirit shines; Singapore win four swimming golds on 1st day, Latest Team Singapore News - The New Paper
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SEA Games 2023: Quah Zheng Wen’s fighting spirit shines; Singapore win four swimming golds on 1st day

PHNOM PENH – One does not win almost 30 golds at the SEA Games without being a fierce competitor, and Quah Zheng Wen showed on Saturday why he loves a “dog fight” in the pool.

Barely 40 minutes after narrowly losing the 100m freestyle final to fellow Singaporean Jonathan Tan, Quah was back on the starting blocks, this time for the 100m backstroke. Just 55.22sec later, he was celebrating a hard-fought win ahead of teammate Ian Tan (55.80) and Jerard Dominic Jacinto (55.99) of the Philippines.

It was Quah’s 28th swimming title at the biennial Games – he won his first as a 15-year-old at the 2011 edition in Palembang – and puts him just one behind Olympic champion Joseph Schooling’s record for a local male athlete.

Quah, 26, said: “I tried to recover as quickly as possible and give it my all. Managed to get the gold for Singapore, and that’s all you can ask for.

“It was a dog fight against Jon. He’s really talented and young. I would have loved to come up with the win in the 100m free but, if anyone was going to beat me, at least it’s my teammate.”

He has won the 100m backstroke at five straight Games, a commendable record given it is no longer his pet event and he currently has to balance training while undergoing national service.

No wonder Singapore head coach Gary Tan praised Quah’s indomitable spirit.

He said: “He looks at things in a very positive light... He knew he had a tough back-to-back night with those two 100m events but he really stepped up. So kudos to him and this is how we must approach our racing every single day.”

Jonathan, who lost to Quah in the 100m free 12 months ago at the Hanoi Games, clocked a personal best of 48.80 to edge out Quah (48.99) and Vietnam’s Jeremie Luong (49.69).

The 21-year-old said: “Both Zheng Wen and I train together, he’s an excellent teammate. I’m just glad we both went below 49sec.

“I don’t hold anything against him (for beating me in 2022).”

Besides their victories at Phnom Penh’s Morodok Techno Aquatics Centre, Singapore also triumphed in the women’s 200m butterfly and 4x100m free relay.

The latter was the Republic’s 1,000th gold at the Games.

The women’s 4x100m free relay team of (from left) Quah Ting Wen, Nur Marina Chan, Quah Jing Wen and Amanda Lim delivered Singapore’s 1,000th gold at the Games. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO


Quah’s younger sister Jing Wen, 22, featured in both.

She easily retained her fly crown, clocking 2min 10.63sec with two Thais, Kamonchanok Kwanmuang (2:11.56) and Jinjutha Pholjamjumrus (2:14.37), taking silver and bronze respectively.

Jing Wen, her older sister Ting Wen, 30, Nur Marina Chan, 25, and Amanda Lim, 30, won the relay in 3:44.29, comfortably ahead of the Philippines (3:47.96) and Thailand (3:50.01).

In the women’s 50m breaststroke, Singapore’s defending champion Leticia Sim had to settle for silver in 31.62 as Thai Jenjira Srisa-ard won in a Games record of 31.22. Malaysian Phee Jinq En was third in 31.94.

The evening’s opening race, the men’s 200m individual medley, was won by Vietnam’s Tran Hung Nguyen in 2:01.28.

Thai Dulyawat Kaewsriyong (2:02.25) and Ian Tan (2:02.42) completed the podium.

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