National swimmer Tao Li ended her maiden Olympics adventure on a high note this evening when she set a new national record during her 200m butterfly heat at the Water Cube.
The 18-year-old Singapore Sports School student clocked 2min 12.63sec as she finished fifth in her race to break her two-month-old national record of 2:13.20. However, the time was not good enough to advance the plucky swimmer into tomorrow’s semi-finals. She finished 26th out of the 34-strong field.
Still, the new 200m butterfly national record marked a fitting end for Tao Li’s Olympic debut, one which saw her capturing the nation’s imagination over the past three days when she became the first Singapore swimmer to ever qualify for an Olympic swimming final.
That was in the 100m butterfly. Tao Li’s bid to break Singapore’s 48-year Olympic medal drought in eventually did not come to fruition as she finished fifth in the final. Nevertheless, she did break the national and Asian records twice en route to the final.
She clocked 57.77sec in the heats, only to see China’s Zhou Yafei rewrite that minutes later with her 57.70sec. But Tao Li recaptured the Asian mark in the semi-finals with her stupendous 57.54sec effort.
Tao Li’s Olympic feats should make her a strong contender for the Singapore National Olympic Council’s Sportswoman of the Year Award next year. The teenager will now take a well-deserved break for two weeks before resuming training.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan