SINGAPORE — Under pressure to bounce back from a shock defeat the previous day, Joseph Schooling faced a familiar teammate – and friendly rival – in his pet event, the men’s 100m butterfly.
And Quah Zheng Wen pushed his more illustrious compatriot to the limit, even leading at the turn. But Schooling summoned one of his famous surges to pip Quah right at the death and clinched a morale-boosting SEA Games gold in Clark City on Friday (6 December).
The reigning Olympic 100m fly champion clocked 51.84 seconds, just managing to beat Quah’s personal-best 51.87sec showing. Vietnam's Paul Le Nguyen won the bronze in 53.89sec.
Both Schooling and Quah also made the Olympic A mark of 51.96sec to qualify for next year’s Tokyo Olympics. And while Schooling’s winning time is still some way short of his 50.39sec gold-medal effort in 2016 – as well as Caeleb Dressel’s world-record mark of 49.50sec – it was way better than his dismal World Championships’ time of 52.93sec in July.
On Thursday, Schooling had lost his first SEA Games race since 2011 to compatriot Teong Tzen Wei in the 50m butterfly. And he was under pressure from the morning heats, when Quah qualified with a better timing of 52.18sec to Schooling’s 52.99sec.
Needless to say, the 100m fly win has given him a major lift in morale.
“This means a lot to me. We still have a lot to do before the Olympics, but I’m just going to live in the moment and enjoy this win,” he said.
Quah could also console himself with his third gold of the Games, clinching the 200m backstroke gold in a Games record of 2min 0.06sec.
The two Singapore swimmers then teamed up with Jonathan Tan and Darren Chua to win the 4x100m freestyle gold, also in a Games record of 3:16.82.
Gold again for women’s fencers in team foil event
Earlier at the World Trade Center in Manila, Singapore’s women’s foil team came from behind to beat Vietnam 45-29 to retain the team gold they won in 2015. There were no team events at the 2017 Games.
The team – comprising individual gold medallist Amita Berthier, runner-up Maxine Wong, Tatiana Wong and Denyse Chan – had trailed early on. However, Maxine Wong managed to narrow the gap from 7-14 to 11-14 by the third bout.
Tatiana Wong then caught up to 14-16, before Berthier overtook their opponents in the fifth bout. Thereafter, Singapore maintain the lead for the gold.
Singapore had also beaten Vietnam 45-26 on home ground for the 2015 title.
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