Drama at the SEA Games as S'pore swim team disqualified

Satish Cheney

By Satish Cheney

It was high drama during the final night of the SEA Games swimming competition when Singapore was stripped of its silver medal for the men’s 4x100m medley relay.

The relay team of Zach Ong, Ng Jia Hao, Joseph Schooling and Danny Yeo had come in second after a comfortable win by the Indonesians.

But it was clear something was amiss when the swimmers looked puzzled after the race as they waited a long time for the scoreboard to light up.

Officials were seen discussing among themselves while viewing slow-motion images of the race at the aquatic centre in Palembang.

It’s believed the final decision to disqualify Singapore came after officials concluded there was an illegal changeover between two of the swimmers.

But despite the disqualification, Singapore’s swim team has plenty to smile about with having already surpassed its previous record 14 gold medal haul.

This is their best ever SEA Games outing with 17 gold medals.

The swim team’s first gold of the night came unexpectedly from 17-year-old Teo Zhen Ren who came out tops in the men’s 1500m freestyle and broke the national record with a timing of 15minutes, 44.32 seconds.

Another national record smasher was wonder boy and SEA games debutante Joseph Schooling who clocked 2minutes and 04.85seconds in the men’s 200m individual medley event. But the 16-year-old had to settle for silver after Thailand snatch top spot.

And it was no surprise, when Tao Li won the 50m butterfly, getting the swim team’s final gold of the SEA Games swimming competition.

But it was heartache for Singapore football fans when the Young Lions crashed out of the competition.

Their 2-0 win over Thailand was not enough to see them through to the semi-finals due to an inferior goal difference with Malaysia.

Indonesia and Malaysia go through to the semi-finals from Group A, dubbed the "Group of Death".

In water skiing, Sasha Christian won silver and set a new national record in the women's slalom final with 16.00 points.

“I’m not disappointed as I’m more of a wakeboarder. I didn’t even expect silver, so that’s really great,” said the 18-year-old to Yahoo! Singapore.

Over at the Jaya Ancol Bowling Centre in Jakarta, Singapore’s keglers won silver and bronze at the women’s trios.

Cherie Tan, whose team won silver, said, “We need to be more focused and would need to pick up all the spares in order to do well on Friday. “I am happy for the Thais but it was quite surprising for them to win. We were expecting Malaysia and Indonesia to be our strongest competitors.”

Additional reporting by Jeanette Tan in Jakarta