SINGAPORE: National Olympic swimmer Quah Zheng Wen will leave Singapore on Thursday (Jan 12) to train and study in the United States, he said at a press conference on Wednesday.
The Rio Olympics 100m butterfly semi-finalist has enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley, where he will start his first semester on Jan 17.
The 20-year-old said he plans to study biology and chemistry for three-and-a-half years, followed by four to five years in medical school.
The national athlete had been accepted by the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore, but chose Berkeley "after weighing the pros and cons".
Quah said he plans to return to Singapore to compete in this year's SEA Games and aims to make a bid for a medal at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. In the meantime, he is awaiting clearance from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to compete in the NCAA swimming championships.
The Berkeley swim team is currently headed by David Durden, who was appointed assistant coach for the US Olympic swim team last year.
Quah said he will try out for the team when he starts university.
"I had to think pretty hard and long about it," he said. "I think one of the huge reasons was the vibe of the team. I wanted to be part of a team that was really dynamic and quick.
“One of the things I liked as well was the men's and women's team don't train together. They alternate and they said they really liked it because it allowed the coaches to focus. Just the intensity that is reached, it sounded pretty amazing and it drew me in."
Quah clinched the most medals at the SEA Games in 2015 with 12 medals, before qualifying for the semi-finals of the men’s 100m and 200m butterfly at the Rio Olympics last August.
In September, he was granted an extension for his National Service deferment by the Ministry of Defence until after the 2020 Olympics.