PENANG: Singapore had to stave off a strong fightback from Thailand before being crowned the overall champions in the 5th Asean Schools Swimming Championship at the Penang International Sports Arena (PISA) yesterday.
Despite going into yesterday's final day of competition ahead by six gold medals, the Singaporeans were forced to sweat it out by Thailand. The former had to wait till the final event of the championship to claim the overall title.
Prior to the last event, the boys' 4x100m freestyle relay, the Thai swimmers swept six of the seven gold medals on offer yesterday.
Thailand had 11 gold, 11 silver and 11 bronze medals while Singapore had a 12-9-6 tally going into the final event.
But Singapore's quartet of Bryan Tay, Thum Bing Ming, Marcus Josef Lee and Jeffrey Su Shi Rong rose to the occasion by winning the boys' 4x100m relay in a meet record time of 3:37.00.
They shattered their own previous record of 3:38.01 set in 1997 while the Thais were second (3:42.62).
“Thailand gave us a good fight right to the end but I am happy with the commitment of my swimmers to become the overall champions here.”
“The Singapore swimmers outperformed themselves and will now return to their respective clubs to prepare for the SEA Games in December,” said Singapore head coach Lawrence Ang.
Apart from anchoring Singapore's 4x100m quartet to victory, Jeffrey also played another key role by breaking Thailand's dominance in the boys 100m freestyle gold earlier.
He finished just 0.04 seconds ahead of Malaysian hope Daniel Bego.
Daniel's silver and five bronzes from Vivian Wong (girls' 200m breaststroke), Ooi Chiew Wei (girls' 100m backstroke), Mohd Faisul Sulaiman (boys' 200m breaststroke) and the boys' and girls' 4x100m freestyle relay teams were all that Malaysia had to show for on the final day of the competition.
The hosts' inept performances yesterday came as a big disappointment to the local schoolchildren who turned out in huge numbers to support the national swimmers.
Malaysia finished a distant third in the three-country competition with a 4-7-11 haul.
100m freestyle: 1. Jeffrey Su Shi Rong (Sin) 54.10, 2. Daniel Bego (Mas) 54.14, 3. Bryan Tay Zhi Rong (Sin) 54.59.
100m backstroke: 1. Sanhawat Charoonsri (Tha) 1:01.14, 2. Lim Zhi Cong (Sin) 1:03.04, 3. Radomyos Matjiur (Tha) 1:03.21.
200m breaststroke: 1. Nattapon Sripreecha (Tha) 2:26.58, 2. Benjamin Ng Kee Guan (Sin) 2:30.83, 3. Mohd Faisul Sulaiman (Mas) 2:32.39.
4x100m freestyle relay: 1. Singapore 3:37.00 (meet record), 2. Thailand 3:42.62, 3. Malaysia 3:46.82.
100m freestyle: 1. Jiratida Phinyosophon (Tha) 1:00.03 (meet record), 2. Jacqueline Lim Kim Tor (Sin) 1:00.14, 3. Jintawan Kladprasit (Tha) 1:00.34.
100m backstroke: 1. Preaw Wiboonsuk (Tha) 1:08.52, 2. Lynette Ng (Sin) 1:08.61, 3. Ooi Chiew Wei (Mas) 1:09.25.
200m breaststroke: 1. Tassamol Petchsangroj (Tha) 2:40.90 (meet record), 2. Sandy Mo Qi Yu (Sin) 2:41.27, 3. Vivian Wong (Mas) 2:49.23.
4x100m freestyle relay: 1. Thailand 4:01.02 (meet record), 2. Singapore 4:02.41, 3. Malaysia 4:05.85.