Team Singapore's Tao Li celebrates with her silver medal after the Women's 50m Butterfly finals (Photo by Vivek Prakash / Sport Singapore)
Tao Li brought more joy to Team Singapore on Monday night as she won the country’s first Silver medal at the 2014 Asian Games in the 50m butterfly, while teenage talent Joseph Schooling finished fourth in the men’s 200m individual medley.
Team Singapore's swimmers ended the night on a strong note, with the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay team producing an excellent effort to finish in fourth place, only a body length behind the powerful South Korean team.
Tao had won Gold in the 50m butterfly in the past two Asian Games, but with the outstanding Lu Ying – a Silver medallist in last year’s World Championships - the clear favorite, another Gold was always going to require something remarkable from the 24-year-old.
Team Singapore's Tao Li (L) congratulates China's Lu Ying after the Women's 50m Butterfly finals (Photo by Vivek Prakash / Sport Singapore)
Tao made the fastest start with a reaction time of just 0.61 and gave Lu a real scare, but she fell just short of a extraordinary third straight Gold medal in the event.
“I finished with a half-stroke. I thought I could get her, I tried my best but her best time is ahead of mine. It is a medal though,” reflected Tao.
“It’s the first silver medal for Singapore at these games and it is probably my last Asian games,” she added.
“My time wasn’t that great but my position was good. In the end, I was beaten by the girl who finished second in the world championships last year,” she said.
Tao has been training in the United States this year, and while pleased with that move, she said her form may have been temporarily affected by the switch.
“I’ve only been training in the U.S. for six months and that is quite a short period of time because everything changed – the training programs, the environment...maybe it would have been good to have a bit more time,” she said.
Tao will resume her medal chase on Tuesday when she competes in the 100m butterfly.
Team Singapore's Joseph Schooling in action during the Men's 200m Individual Medley finals (Photo by Vivek Prakash / Sport Singapore)
Her compatriot, Schooling, who picked up bronze on Sunday in the 50m butterfly, fell just short of his attempt to grab a second medal at the games, finishing fourth in a race dominated by the brilliant Japanese swimmer Kosuke Hagino.
Schooling, the Commonwealth Games silver medallist in the 100m butterfly, posted a time of 2:00.11 and he was not quite satisfied.
“It wasn’t my best time. I thought I could've been faster,” said Schooling, who still has yet to race in his best events – the 100 and 200m butterfly.
“The important thing for me is making a comeback and swimming the way that I want to swim. The 200m fly is supposed to be my pet event and I believe this is the event that I am going to be the best at. My coach is responsible for helping me understand that we can do great things, and I feel that I have achieved what I have set out to do. For now, I have set my mind on doing bigger and better things and will do my best for my next big events,” he said.
Schooling did not feature in the 4x200m team, citing his desire to focus on his medley and to give other swimmers a chance to compete - and compete is exactly what they did.
The team of Danny Yeo, Pang Sheng Jun, Teo Zhen Ren and Clement Lim created a new Singapore national record with their time of 7:25.46, with Danny Yeo also achieving his personal best with a timing of 1:49.68.
Winners Japan dominated while powerhouses China kept up the chase, but it will greatly encourage the young Singapore team that they came so close to upsetting a South Korean team, with an Olympic gold medalist in Park Taehwan, and in their home pool.