I found these two small reports in today’s edition of The Sunday Times.
Quah Ting Wen’s breaking of Joscelin Yeo’s national 50m freestyle record at the National Age-Group Swimming Championships was a seven-paragraph report dwarved by the story it was placed next to – that of unknown Chinese shuttler Wang Yihan who emerged out of nowhere to defeat Denmark’s Tine Rasmussen to take the All-England women singles title:
Ting Wen breaks Jos’ 50m mark (The Sunday Times, 15 March 2009)
By Jonathan Wong
Quah Ting Wen yesterday lowered the women’s national 50 metres freestyle record to 25.80 seconds.
The Raffles Junior College student, 17, rewrote Joscelin Yeo’s 2005 record of 26.13sec at the National Age Group Swimming Championships at the Singapore Sports School.
‘I’m very happy and surprised. My training hasn’t changed much and I didn’t prepare specifically for this competition,” she said.
‘I just try to swim my best at each race and not to think too much about breaking records. It’s a pleasant bonus though.’
Her effort also secured her the Under-17 record, a day after Amanda Lim had broken Ting Wen’s previous best of 26.39 by seven hundredths of a second.
It was Ting Wen’s second national record. She had broken another of Joscelin’s records at the Beijing Olympics last year, clocking 4min 51.25sec for the 400m individual medley.
In other races Shana Lim, 15, eclipsed Tao Li’s Under-17 national mark in the 100m backstroke in 1:03.42 and Lionel Khoo, 13, bettered his previous bests in the 50m (30.53) and 100m breaststroke (1:06.89). Joseph Schooling, also 13, claimed a personal-best in the 100m butterfly (59.40).
The meet ends tomorrow.
The report of national discus thrower Wan Lay Chi qualifying for the SEA Games was even smaller – a three-paragraph write-up in the Sports Briefs column:
Wan’s best throw (The Sunday Times, 15 March 2009)
Wan Lay Chi set a personal best of 47.74 metres in winning the discus throw at the 3rd All-Comers Athletics Meet at Gombak Stadium yesterday.
Her previous best was 47.17m in another All-Comers meet three years ago.
To add to the 19-year-old’s joy, she also met the qualification mark of 45.73m for December’s South-east Asia Games in Laos.
I felt it was a real pity that the feats of these two young local athletes ended up being given such limited coverage.
Sure, I can understand the newspapers’ need to serve the interests of its readers and focus on stories which they think, hence the huge coverage given to the Liverpool-Manchester United game and other EPL matches.
I guess the people behind the sports pages must have also felt that the lifting of Malaysia Cup hero Abbas Saad’s lifetime ban in Singapore was also significant news (especially for those who can still remember the Malaysia Cup days) and as such, merited in that full-page profile piece on the retired Australian footballer, now a youth coach in Sydney.
But I still can’t help feeling that more coverage (or editorial acreage, in journalistic parlance) could have been given to the achievements of these two young and upcoming members of Team Singapore.
I mean, here are two wonderful moments of achievement in local sport for us to savour, by young, local emerging athletes. And yet this is all the amount of space that can be spared for them?
Look at what Ting Wen has accomplished: she broke Joscelin Yeo’s long-standing national 50m freestyle record by 0.5secs. It is also the second time she has broken a mark set by Joscelin Yeo.
Ting Wen’s feat means two things – that
a) our one-time swim queen Joscelin Yeo is slowly but surely being erased from the national record books and
b) that Ting Wen is slowly coming of age and emerging as a top-class swimmer that Singapore can count on to deliver a couple of individual SEA Games gold medals at Laos at the end of the year.
After all, from 1993 to 2005, Joscelin was practically the saviour of the Singapore Amateur Swimming Association, and the queen of Singapore sports.
She would single-handedly deliver most of the swimming golds for Singapore at the SEA Games.
And thanks to her, Singapore would end up toting up a respectable haul of golds at the biennial regional Games and finishing a respectable fifth in the overall medal standings.
Most of her national records were also SEA Games records.
Honestly, I would have preferred to have read more about Ting Wen than Wang Lihan today.
Likewise, it would have been nice to read more about Lay Chi in today’s papers. Doesn’t qualifying for the SEA Games warrant more space than three paragraphs?
After all, it means that the 21-year-old thrower – who is seen as the local successor to the China-born Zhang Guirong – has now met the bronze-medal winning distance of the previous SEA Games, the qualifying benchmark for this year’s Games.
And really, it’s been quite a while since we’ve heard of any news of this former Teck Whye Secondary School student, who, incidentally, was part of the generation of promising throwers that the school produced in the late 1990s under the tutelage of Choo Chee Kiong.
I last read about her at the 2007 SEA Games in Korat where she finished fourth in the shot put, missing the bronze by a mere 0.19m.
Six months before that, she was also Singapore’s sole gold medal winner at the 2nd South-east Asian Junior Athletics Championships. She also set a new national age-group record with her 13.26m throw in the shot -put.
Singapore Amateur Athletics Association supremo Loh Lin Kok was even quoted as saying that he would be giving her an open ticket to train anywhere because of her talent.
So, yes, it would have been really nice if these two young ladies were given more significant coverage in today’s papers as a way of recognising their achievements and efforts.
It would have also gone a long way in helping to raise the stature of local sports, and the profiles of young local athletes who are going to be our flag-bearers on the international sporting stage (even if the stage is a lowish-level platform like the SEA Games).
So, my heartiest congratulations to Ting Wen and Lay Chi. I hope your achievements will help to spur you on to greater heights this year, especially at the SEA Games.
Shame about the lack of coverage though.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan