SINGAPORE: Team Singapore's swimmers continued their gold mining of the pool on the final of day of the event competition at the Southeast Asia (SEA) Games on Thursday (Jun 11).
Singapore added four more gold medals to the haul to finish with a national record of 23. That is more than double the 11 gold they got in the Myanmar SEA Games in 2013. Vietnam were next best with 10 gold - eight of those won by dynamo Nguyen Thi Ahn Vien. The 18-year-old added yet another gold to her name by claiming victory in the 200m breaststroke, and then saluted cheekily to the cameras for the last time as she left the pool after a remarkable 12 events.
Singapore's Quah Zheng Wen was just as busy. He won his 11th medal of the SEA Games by taking the 50m backstroke in a new record time of 25.27 seconds, ahead of reigning champion Indonesia's I Gede Siman Sudartawa (25.34s).
Singapore swimmer Quah Zheng Wen (Photo: Jack Board)
Earlier, Indonesia won its first gold of a disappointing swimming campaign courtesy of a powerful swim from Indra Gunawan (28,27s) in the 50m breaststroke.
But this was, once again, a night that belonged to Singapore. Amanda Lim set the tone in the night's second race by winning the women's 50m freestyle for the fourth consecutive time in 25.59s just one hundredth of a second in front of teammate Quah Ting Wen.
Singapore's Quah Ting Wen and Amanda Lim with their medals from the 50m freestyle. (Photo: Jack Board)
Tao Li after winning the 100m butterfly (Photo: Jack Board)
Tao Li made it 22 after winning the women's 100m butterfly in 59.79s, prompting a ceremonial bell ringing on the pool deck by swimming legend Ang Peng Siong, one for each gold won. Tao was visibly pumped up by the victory as she slapped the water with vigour and waved enthusiastically to the full house in the stands. She won five gold in total, winning every event she entered. Quah Ting Wen was right behind her with a time of 1:00.30.
"I did it, I proved to myself that I'm still there and in the butterfly no-one can touch me in Southeast Asia," she said. "I did what I aimed for.
"There's been no one (SEA Games) like this before, the home crowd cheering for us, that's a big thing for the swimmers," she added.
And to ensure a clean sweep of the relays it was left to four men accustomed to success this SEA Games - Quah, Joseph Schooling, Clement Lim and Lionel Khoo - to wrap things up in the 4x100m medley relay.
Singapore's Quah Zheng Wen, Joseph Schooling, Clement Lim and Lionel Khoo win the gold in the 4x100m medley relay. (Photo: Jack Board)
They did it in style, breaking a Games record in the process with a time of 3:38.25, the 29th overall, and notably giving Schooling his ninth gold medal. That is nine gold out of nine events, for Singapore's swim king.
"I'm very happy with myself but I'm more happy for the relay. I don't think we'd won since '91 and that's the perfect way to finish the meet," the 19-year-old said. "I think we've just got a lot of talent. The result speaks for itself, we're better than the previous teams and I think that's really positive for Singapore swimming teams moving forward."
Joseph Schooling. (Photo: Goh Chiew Tong)
"I get to let the diet go," joked Quah when asked what celebrations he had planned.
Indonesia and Thailand's men were right behind Singapore's 4x100m medley relay team, clocking 3:42.10 and 3:45.67 respectively for silver and bronze.
Singapore's national coach Sergio Lopez said before the Games that he would be happy with 12 gold from the team. The smile on his face after six days that saw his team nearly double that goal was deservedly jubilant.