THERE was little doubt of Siow Yi Ting's prowess in the 200-metre individual medley as she started the event at the National Sports Complex aquatics centre in Vientiane last night as the defending champion and hot favourite.
An explosive swim that shaved almost three seconds off Singaporean Joscelin Yeo's Sea Games record on the eve of her 24th birthday was something even the University of Arkansas student never expected.
Yi Ting stormed off the blocks to lead from the start of the butterfly stroke, leaving closest challengers Natthanan Junkrajang of Thailand and Singapore's Koh Ting Ting without even a sniff of the lead as she covered the length of the pool in the backstroke.
When it came to her favoured breaststroke, Yi Ting surged ahead to virtually confirm her win before she powered through the freestyle in the final 50 metres.
She hit the board at two minutes 14.57 seconds, dwarfing Joscelin's old record of 2:17.17s set at the 2003 Games in Vietnam. The time also bettered Yi Ting's own national mark of 2:16.92s set in 2006.
"It was simply awesome, really an amazing feeling. I mean that because swimming nowhere near my personal best for so long, it came as a relief to swim this fast," said Yi Ting.
|Siow Yi Ting raises her arm after finishing first in the 200-metre individual medley at the National Sports Complex aquatics centre in Vientiane in Laos yesterday. Yi Ting clocked a time of 2:14.57 seconds.|
"I had wanted to better my time so badly in the World Championships in Rome (in August) but then there I only managed a 2:17s swim and I was really disappointed with myself back then. I came here with the gold medal as one of my goals, but I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself.
"I just relaxed my mind and swam hard, that's how I did it."
The victory has now inspired Yi Ting, who has contemplated making this her final Sea Games, to double her gold medal tally when she starts as a favourite in the 100m breaststroke today.
Yi Ting's performance surely overshadowed the two bronze medals won by both the men's and women's 4x200m freestyle relay quartets later yesterday.
Kevin Lim, Kevin Yeap, Daniel Bego and Foo Jian Beng smashed a 10-year-old national record of 7:40.88s set by Dieung Manggang, Wan Azlan Abdullah, Lim Keng Liat and Elvin Chia at the 1999 Sea Games in Brunei with time of 7:36.89s for the bronze medal behind Singapore and the Philippines.
The women's quartet of Yi Ting, Lai Wei Li, Hii Siew Siew and Khoo Cai Lin's 4x200m freestyle bronze came in 8:29.12s, which was slower than the national mark of 8:27.13s set by Cai Lin, Heidi Gan, Lew Yih Wey and Ong Ming Xiu at the 2007 Sea Games in Korat.
Chui Lai Kwan bettered Leung Chii Lin's national 100m freestyle national mark in the women's 100m freestyle with a new time of 57.59s, but it only ranked sixth in her event. NST