SEA Games: Mikkel Lee shocks everyone, including himself, with victory in 50m butterfly
What a way to win a first individual SEA Games gold medal. A personal best achieved in beating a teammate and defending champion, and qualifying for the World Aquatics Championships.
Mikkel Lee was not even aware of what he had done on Wednesday night, as he had his goggles on and not his spectacles.
“I don’t know if you guys can tell but I can’t see the scoreboard, so I had no idea what my time was,” the 20-year-old said afterwards.
“I didn’t know whether I made the cut (for the world meet), I didn’t know what I swam. Until I heard someone in the crowd scream. Then I thought, oh, is that me?”
He certainly was the winner after clocking 23.45sec to win the men’s 50m butterfly, shaving 0.12sec off the time he posted to top the morning heats. Both were personal bests for Lee.
He finished ahead of fellow Singaporean Teong Tzen Wei (23.67) and Jarod Hatch (23.89) of the Philippines.
Lee’s swim was also inside the 23.53 required for the A cut at July’s world meet in Fukuoka, Japan.
He then added another gold as part of the winning quartet in the 4x100m freestyle relay alongside Jonathan Tan, Darren Chua and Quah Zheng Wen.
They won in 3min 17.35sec, ahead of Malaysia (3:20.61) and Vietnam (3:21.09).
Lee’s goofy smile said everything, as did the figure of Teong, 25, slumped against a metal gate after the 50m fly.
He had arrived in Phnom Penh as the fastest man in South-east Asia in the pool, having bagged the 50m free and 50m fly, both in meet records, just a year ago at the Hanoi Games.
He lost the first to Jonathan Tan, 21, on Sunday and three days later relinquished another crown to a younger man.
He leaves with just one gold in the men’s 4x100m medley relay.
Teong said he was disappointed with his swims in Cambodia and promised to rebound from the defeats. Visibly emotional, he cut short his interview before leaving.
It was a productive day for Singapore, as they bagged three more golds at the Morodok Techo Aquatics Centre.
Quah Ting Wen won the battle of veterans in the 50m free, touching the wall in 25.04 to hold off fellow 30-year-old Amanda Lim (25.16) and 28-year-old defending champion Jenjira Srisaard (25.32) of Thailand.
Letitia Sim continued to stamp her dominance in the women’s breaststroke events, winning the 200m final in 2:28.49 for a Games and national record.
Thai Phianghkwan Pawapotako took silver in 2:32.44 while Singapore’s Christie Chue was third in 2:32.60.
Sim, who was second in the 50m and won the 100m, said: “Pretty proud of the time. It was tough at the end but I could hear the crowd and I just kept pushing forward.
“I definitely think I could go a lot faster, a lot of things to improve but I’m not too mad about it.”
The foursome of Ting Wen, Gan Ching Hwee, Ashley Lim and Chan Zi Yi prevailed in the women’s 4x200m free relay. They clocked 8:12.80, ahead of Thailand (8:17.95) and the Philippines (8:19.94).
Gan said: “It’s a really fresh line-up, some of them are on this relay for the first time. It’s just been fun.”