Joseph Schooling, in his last race as a teenager, delivered on his promise to win nine gold medals at the SEA Games.
Singapore's Joseph Schooling in action. Photo credit: SINGSOC
Schooling, who celebrates his 20th on the same day as next week’s Closing Ceremony, made it nine from nine when he swam the butterfly leg in the triumohant Singaporean men’s medley relay.
Teaming up with Quah Zheng Wen, Lionel Khoo and Clement Yong, Schooling ensured fittingly won the last gold medal on offer in a swimming programme the republic dominated from start to finish.
Singapore won 23 gold medals from 38 swimming events, another record.
“It always feels great hearing your national anthem played, it gets better every time,” Schooling said as he celebrated with his team mates.
“I’m 100 per cent Singaporean at heart. I’m just trying to do my best for my country and I'm glad it worked out.
The undisputed star of the Games, Schooling won gold in all nine events he entered and set 10 SEA Games records along the way and sasid the pressure of performing at home would serve him well as he tries to win gold for Singapore on the world stage.
"That was goal going into this meet and I'm happy to have reached my expectations and my targets," he said . "It's just one step forward to my ultimate dream and I think I'm on track for achieving that."
Quah also showed that he is another star in the making, winning medals in all 12 events he entered, including five golds. He was close to exhaustion by the end but played his role in the relay with a sizzling lead-off backstroke leg.
“It’s been great,” he said. “But now I’m pretty tired and I just want to get something to eat and rest.”
Amanda Lim also won gold for the host-nation on Thursday, taking out the 50m freestyle in a Games record time of 25.59sec, just 0.01 seconds ahead of Quah’s older sister Ting Wen. Then Tao Li , the iron lady of Singaporean swimming, won the 100m butterfly, giving her five golds at the 28th SEA Games and 29 over her career.
Singapore's Tao Li celebrates after the gold medal. Photo credit: SINGSOC
Vietnam finished second with 10 golds, eight of which were won by Florida-based teenager Nguyen Thi Anh Vien, a gold medallist at last year's Youth Olympics.
With Vietnam unable to enter a relay team, the 18-year-old competed in 12 individual events, winning eight of them and finishing on the podium in two others.
Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Anh Vien celebrates after winning the gold medal. Photo credit: SINGSOC
On Thursday, she squeezed every ounce of energy to win the 200m breaststroke, one of her weakest events, then dived straight back in the pool after her medal ceremony and came fourth in the 100m butterfly, as her exhausting schedule finally caught up with her.
"Eight gold medals. I'm happy," she said. "But I'm very, very tired."