12 medals in 12 events: Here’s what it cost Quah Zheng Wen

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Quah Zheng Wen in the 50m backstroke. Photo: SINGSOC/Action Images via Reuters

He competed in 12 events over the course of six days and medalled in every one of them, bringing home a tidy haul of seven golds, four silvers and one bronze.

In the process, Quah Zheng Wen also broke six Games records – three individual and three relays.

It is no surprise that the 19-year-old is “overexerted, super exhausted and super spent” by the end of the swim competition on Thursday.

“I was tired by day three and that was only halfway through the meet,” he revealed. “But I just got my head down, focused on the remaining events and took it one day at a time.”

“I’m literally dead on my bed each night and I’ve been sleeping late because of random doping tests I have to do every day. By the time it's done, I eat dinner at about 11.30pm and go to sleep around 1am."

The next closest person in terms of medal count was Vietnamese swimmer Nguyen Thi Anh Vien who initially was listed for all 19 events, but ended up swimming in 12 and winning 10 medals. 

“It’s been really tough for me,” said Quah. “I’m also a bit sick and I cough myself to sleep. I can’t wait to go back and sleep without having to set an alarm, as well as eat crap.

“I’m ready to let the diet go."

Quah was part of the final event  – the men’s 4x100m medley relay – where the powerhouse team of Quah, Joseph Schooling, Clement Lim and Lionel Khoo brought home gold medal number 23 for Singapore in 3:38.25, erasing the old mark of 3:41.35 set in 2011. 

“I think this team just has a lot of talent. The results speak for itself,” added Schooling, who achieved his target of nine gold medals at this meet.

“We are better than the previous teams and that’s a really good step for Singapore swimming. It’s an evolution of coaching and training. Hopefully we keep improving like that.”

28th SEA Games Singapore 2015 - OCBC Aquatic Centre, Singapore - 11/6/15 Swimming - Women’s 100m Butterfly - Final - Singapore's Tao Li celebrates after the gold medal SEAGAMES28 TEAMSINGAPORE Mandatory Credit: Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee / Action Images via Reuters

Tao Li takes hiatus
Tao Li’s gold medal in the women’s 50m butterfly also broke Singapore’s record 21-gold haul in swimming – achieved at the 1973 Southeast-Asian Peninsular Games.

There was a lot of pressure on her coming into the event, but the 25-year-old was glad to have proven herself.

“People have been putting pressure on me, especially about the Vietnamese girl Nguyen Thi Anh Vien and how she is a big threat to me,” Tao explained.

“Thus when I touched the wall first I felt a huge sense of relief as I proved that I’m still there.

“I achieved what I aimed for – five golds – and also proved that my decision to go for altitude training in China was a right one.”

Tao also revealed that she will be taking the next one and a half years off to concentrate on her studies.

“I’ve been swimming and swimming for the past 10 years; now I gotta study. I’ll be back after one and a half years, so look out for the younger swimmers now.

“I’ll definitely be at the next SEA Games,” she added.

Quah Ting Wen embraces Amanda Lim at the end of her swim in the 50m freestyle. Photo: SINGSOC/Action Images via Reuters

Lim dedicates gold to coach

Clinching the first gold of the night was Amanda Lim in the 50m freestyle, where she beat teammate Quah Ting Wen by a narrow 0.01 seconds.

This is the 22-year-old’s first individual gold medal of the Games after winning three relay gold medals.

“This medal is very important to me… I regained my throne and I’m very happy and relieved to win a medal again.

“Winning an individual gold medal is different (from winning one in relays) and I needed to stamp my territory in Southeast Asia once again as the fastest woman (for this event).

“I feel very surreal and I can’t believe it in a way,” Lim added.

Lim dedicated this medal to her swimming coach David Lim, who is resigning after this SEA Games.

“I’ve been under him for four years and he’s like a second father to me. I honestly think I speak more to him than my own father as I see him at the pool everyday.”