MANILA: Singaporean swimmer Quah Zheng Wen was given the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for male athletes on Wednesday (Dec 11), having won the highest number of medals at SEA Games 2019, with six gold and two silver in his haul.
"It's definitely an honour just to have our flag up there representing Team Singapore," said Quah after receiving news of the award. "It's a reflection (of my performance)."
But more than winning medals, the 23-year-old was happy to have also qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the 100m butterfly and 100m backstroke events.
"I came with the goal of trying to qualify for the Olympics. Honestly speaking, getting gold ... was not what I was looking for at these Games.
"It was a bonus. It's kind of a testament to how hard I'd been training. I'm glad for that. I'm just happy I accomplished what I set out to do."
Vietnamese swimmer Nguyen Thi Anh Vien won the MVP award for female athletes.
Quah's performance at the Games earned the praise of teammate Joseph Schooling.
“For him to come up and step up for three events tonight and do best times - back to back in the space of one hour and ten, that’s pretty darn impressive,” said Schooling last Friday, after Quah stretched him to the finish line in the 100m butterfly final.
Clocking a personal best of 51.87, Quah qualified for the Olympics and came in 0.03s behind Schooling.
“Kudos to him, he’s been having the best meet of all of us so far and we’re just trying to follow his example,” Schooling added.
Quah and his swimming compatriots, including his sisters Jing Wen and Ting Wen, were among the top performers in the Games with 23 gold medals – equalling their best performance in 2015.
With 15 Games records, nine national records and 26 personal best timings, they also surpassed their away record of 19 golds in 2017, the Singapore National Olympic Council said in press release on Wednesday.
Singapore sent its largest away contingent in history to this year's Games in the Philippines. They won 53 gold, crossing the 900th gold medal mark as the 2019 campaign came to a close.
With 46 silver and 68 bronze, Singapore won a total of 167 medals - 51 of which coming from Games debutants - said the Council.
Quah said he was looking forward to the closing ceremony on Wednesday evening, where he would receive his award.
Additional reporting by Matthew Mohan.
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