SINGAPORE — He had won 24 SEA Games golds, was swimming in his favoured swim stroke and had won the 50m butterfly final in the past three editions. Oh, and Joseph Schooling was also the reigning Olympic champion in the 100m fly.
So it comes as a massive upset when another Singaporean, freestyle specialist Teong Tzen Wei, trumped his more illustrious compatriot in the SEA Games men’s 50m fly final in Clark City on Thursday (5 December).
Teong, 22, clocked a personal-best 23.55 seconds in the one-lap race to pip Schooling (23.61sec) to the gold, and even he was stunned at his achievement.
“He’s my brother, we train every day, and I just got this one (gold), and he has many ahead of him. I’m just happy that both of us got onto the podium,” Teong, who has only one prior gold won in the men’s 50m freestyle in 2017, said during a poolside interview after his stunning swim.
Schooling tried to put on a brave face in defeat. He said, “Kudos to Tzen Wei, he did really well and had a great start. I tried my best but sometimes that’s the result. I’m not too disappointed to see my teammate in front of me, obviously. I’d rather have him ahead of me than anyone else.”
Four golds for Singapore at the pool
Teong’s shock victory overshadowed other impressive achievements by Singapore swimmers, who claimed a total of four golds on Thursday evening.
Just before Teong’s win, 15-year-old Elena Pedersen – making her Games debut – stormed to gold in the women’s 50m backstroke in 29.40sec, edging out Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Anh Vien (29.64) and Indonesia’s Ratih Anak Agung Istri Kania (29.77).
Christy Chue then smashed the Games record in the women’s 200m breaststroke, the 19-year-old clocking 2min 28.71sec to emerge victorious over Thailand’s Pawapotako Phiangkwan (2:31.47) and Malaysia’s Phee Jinq En (2:32.38).
In the final race of the evening, Singapore’s women’s 4x200m freestyle quartet of Chue, Gan Ching Hwee, Quah Jing Wen and Quah Ting Wen easily swept to gold in a Games record of 8:07.00, beating the teams from Thailand (8:11.88) and the Philippines (8:15.46)
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