Tao Li makes her mark in 50m butterfly
'Flyer' storms to gold in her favourite event
She has got a swagger, of that there is no doubt.
But the Tao Li who stepped out at the OCBC Aquatic Centre yesterday did not just strut to her position in lane four - she was sending a statement of intent with every step.
Track top already stripped off, and hanging loosely in hand, Tao Li (above) seemed to say simply that this was her house. And the 25-year-old homed in on her event, delivering gold with aplomb.
It was not just a win in the 50m butterfly in the first race of the night, as she set a new Games record of 26.58sec, 0.01sec faster than the mark she previously owned. Compatriot Quah Ting Wen finished second in 27.02sec, with Jasmine Alkhaldi of the Philippines taking the bronze (27.47).
Swim star Nguyen Thi Anh Vien finished outside the medals in 27.67, no surprise to Tao Li, although she did acknowledge the Vietnamese girl's prowess.
"I didn't expect to break the Games record, but I did expect to win. I am in the top three in Asia in this event after all, and this competition is easier than Asia," said Tao.
"For (this event), she (Nguyen) definitely can't beat me, her pet events are the individual medley (IM) and backstroke, not the fly.
"But for the backstroke (today) my main competitor is her - let's see."
National swim coach Sergio Lopez paid tribute to Tao Li for kicking off a good day in the pool for the hosts.
And he hoped her performance had sent a clear message to the opposition.
"She did good, got the gold medal, and even if the time was a little slower than her personal best, it was an important performance," said the Spaniard.
"This is competition - this is war - you've got to be strong and tough, and starting with Tao Li, we got gold and silver in that race; then we got gold and silver in the second race, and ended the race day finishing 12 seconds ahead (of the nearest rivals Malaysia) in the men's 4x200m free relay.
"I hope that sends a strong message about our team."
Tao Li will face Nguyen again this morning, in the 50m backstroke heats, and while she is wary of her Vietnamese opponent, Lopez believes that the Singaporean may yet pull something off.
"I'm not saying that she's (Vietnam's Nguyen) not an amazing swimmer, but in anything under 200m, she's going to have to step up," he said.
The war has clearly begun.