SINGAPORE — Through four days of competition, Singapore swimmers endured narrow misses and close calls with the Asian Games medal, wondering when the first one will arrive.
It finally came on Thursday evening (28 September) in the men's 50m butterfly sprint, and it was Teong Tzen Wei - who had endured a sub-standard SEA Games outing in May - who broke the medal duck by clinching silver in a superb performance at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Park Aquatics Centre.
The 25-year-old, who won silver in the same event at last year's Commonwealth Games, had the fastest start among the final field, and led until the final 10m before South Korea's Baek In-Chul caught up and won the race in a Games record time of 23.29 seconds.
Teong still came in second to the cheers of the Singapore contingent, clocking 23.34sec to finish ahead of Kazakhstan's Adilbek Mussin (23.44sec).
It was a magnificent end to his year, which was plagued by struggles to recover from a torn elbow ligament he had suffered at the short-course World Swimming Championships in December last year.
At the Cambodia SEA Games, Teong could not retain the 50m freestyle and butterfly golds that he won at the previous Games in 2021, and cut a despondent figure in Phnom Penh.
He will be far more cheerful in Hangzhou with his silver-medal showing.
Third fourth-place showing for Letitia Sim
There was further heartache for Letitia Sim, who had announced herself as a top talent after winning three swimming golds at the Cambodia SEA Games.
In Hangzhou, however, the 20-year-old Games debutant came in fourth for the third time, as she was edged out of the medals again in the women's 200m breaststroke final on Thursday.
Sim had been in contention for second place behind China's favourite Ye Shiwen for much of the race, but was caught up by South Korea's Kwon Se-hyon and Japan's Runa Imai to end up fourth, just 0.02sec off the bronze medal.
She would have to console herself with setting a second national record at the Games, after a similar fourth-place showing in the women's 100m breaststroke final on Wednesday. She also came in the fourth with the Singapore mixed 4x100m medley relay team on Wednesday.
There were two other fourth-place showings for Singapore at the swimming pool on Thursday. In the women's 50m freestyle final, Amanda Lim clocked 25.07sec to finish just out of the medal spots, behind China's Zhang Yufei (24.26sec), Hong Kong's Siobhan Haughey (24.34sec) and China's Cheng Yujie (24.60sec). Quah Ting Wen came in fifth in the race in 25.09sec.
Then in the men's 4x100m freestyle relay, the Singapore team of Jonathan Tan, Quah Zheng Wen, Ardi Zulhilmi Azman and Mikkel Lee finished in fourth as well, clocking a national-record 3min 14.77sec to be placed behind winners China, who came in in an Asian record 3:10.88, second-placed South Korea (3:12.96) and third-placed Japan (3:14.26).
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