Zheng Wen delivers Singapore's first swim gold
Singapore teen overturns deficit to win first gold; big sister part of victorious relay women
He came within a whisker of winning his first race of the 2015 South-east Asia (SEA) Games last night, but Vietnam's Hoang Quy Phuoc touched the wall first to bag the men's 200m freestyle gold medal at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
Minutes later, Quah Zheng Wen returned to action for the 100m backstroke and trailed Indonesian defending champion I Gede Sudartawa.
This time, the Singaporean completed his fight back, blowing his opponent out of the water to clinch the Republic's first swimming gold of the Games, rewriting his own national record and the Games mark with a 54.51sec effort in front of a sellout crowd.
Speaking minutes later, the 19-year-old said: "I am very happy to do the crowd proud, I was pretty disappointed not the win my first event... I saw him beside me underwater at the turn, and it fired me up.
"I wanted to out-touch him at the wall and not want a repeat of my first race... I would like to think that my first race inspired my second, but I think it was just a lot of mental preparation that helped me.
"Sergio (Lopez, national coach) keeps emphasising to us - if you have a bad race you can cry for five minutes, but when you get onto the block again you just race."
His beaten opponent, Sudartawa, was gracious in defeat.
The Indonesian said: "I am already proud of myself. I swam a perfect race, but his underwater was very good and I was not strong enough in the second 50.
"Zheng Wen is strong in the 100m and 200m events, but I will be trying to win the 50m event."
Singapore ended the night on a high when the quartet of Marina Chan, Amanda Lim, Hoong En Qi and Quah Ting Wen stormed home in the women's 4x100m freestyle relay, winning gold with a time of 3min 46.60sec.
The team ended the first day with two golds, two silvers and two bronzes.
Quah claimed a silver in the men's 200m freestyle in a new national mark of 1:49.17, but lost out to Vietnam's Hoang, who set a new Games record of 1:48.96.
Hoang said: "I didn't expect to do this timing, I was expecting a 1min 49sec race. Another five more metres and the Singaporean would have beaten me."
Lionel Khoo (2:16.66) finished behind gold medallist Matjiur Radomyos of Thailand (2:14.83) but ahead of Christopher Cheong (2:16.99) in the men's 200 breaststroke.
Debutante Quah Jing Wen, 14, ensured that all three siblings won a medal on the first day of the competition, when she clocked a personal best of 4:59.52 to take bronze in the women's 400m individual medley.
She said: "This is really a big thing for me, especially since this is my first SEA Games and it is held on home ground.
"I was very nervous... but my siblings encouraged me every day to do my best, and I just told myself that I have worked hard for this, and all that would be put to use during the race.
"I wasn't really expecting anything, I just wanted to do a new PB, so I'm very happy."
"Personally, I have gotten the awkward first race out of the way and should get better in the coming days. I want to win the most number of medals, not just for myself, but also as a matter of pride. We are at home, I really don’t want to let people down."
- Quah Zheng Wen after finishing two of his scheduled 12 events
DID YOU KNOW?
Quah Zheng Wen not only likes to read fantasy books but is also a budding artist, who loves to draw dragons and other mystical creatures on his computer with the help of a digital tablet.
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Girls land relay gold
SHEER DELIGHT: The quartet Quah Ting Wen, Hoong En Qi, Nur Marina Chan and Amanda Lim after their triumph. - TNP PHOTO: CHOO CHWEE HUA
A partisan home crowd roared on the Singapore women's 4x100m freestyle relay team as they stormed to victory in the last event of swimming's opening night.
The quartet of Nur Marina Chan, Amanda Lim, Hoong En Qi and Quah Ting Wen took home the Republic's second gold last night, clocking 3min 46.60sec to beat the 2013 SEA Games gold medallists Thailand, who finished second (3:49.62).
Marina, 17, said: "I am really happy with this performance, the gold also belongs to our supporters - from our coaches, our family and everyone in the stands. I really want to thank everyone who had our backs and supported every swimmer through every leg.
"For me, whether it is an individual or a relay, a gold is a gold and I am really happy to be able to stand up on the podium with my teammates. It is such a surreal experience."
Quah, 22, had been looking forward to performing well at these Games to erase the memory of the 2013 meet, which she described as one of her worst of her career.
The eldest of the Quah swim siblings was in a great mood after the victory.
She said: "It feels really good, exciting and really fun. The SEA Games has really started for me.
"The celebration can come later, though. My main focus is on my events, and I want to finish this meet with a bang before I plan further ahead."
Marina believes the home crowd will do wonders for the swimmers in the coming days.
She said: "It is just Day One and it is already such an adrenaline rush. If this continues, we will see some wonderful swims at this Games."