PETALING JAYA: SEA Games gold medallist Phee Jinq En is staking a strong claim to be Malaysia’s swimming representative at the Olympic Games in Tokyo after another splashing show.
The 23-year-old met the Olympic Selection Time (OST) of 1:09.08 in taking fifth place in the women’s 100m breaststroke final in the TYR Pro Swim Series in Indianapolis, the United States.
Jinq En swam the fourth fastest time of 1:09.26 in the preliminaries earlier to qualify for the elite final field on Wednesday.
She did not win a medal but it is nothing short of an achievement to pull off in the company of swimmers who have represented the US at the international stage.
Reigning world and Olympics champion Lilly King showed she is on track to shine going into the US Olympic trials in Omaha, Nebraska, next month in winning the final in 1:05.47.
Jinq En also swam the 200m breaststroke but finished 17th overall in 2:34.69. So her best hope to make a second straight Olympics appearance lies in the 100m breaststroke event.
Weighing in Jing En’s favour is the fact that she is the only Malaysian female swimmer to achieve Olympics qualifying standard.
FINA will only decide how many to qualify from the OST list after the qualifying period is over by the end of June.
Those already assured of Tokyo tickets are those who came through the Olympic Qualifying Time (OQT) with a cut of time of 1:07.07.
Jinq En had already dipped under the OST when she clocked a national record time of 1:08.50 in winning the 100m breaststroke event en route to the gold at the 2019 Philippines SEA Games.
She is just happy that she made a bold move to return to the US to train at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in December last year.
“It’s a season best time for me but I’m kind of a bit disappointed not to go faster, ” said Jinq En, who clocked 1:09.11 in finishing fourth in the Combined Speedo Invitational in Elkhart, Indiana, last month.
“It’s a challenge really as I used to compete in at least one meet every one or two months but now I’ve taken part in only two meets in a year.
“I need to train harder. This is my last swimming meet. I will come back home and continue training, assuming that I’m going to Tokyo, ” added Jinq En, who will return to Malaysia middle of next month.
Jinq En is unable to prolong her stay in the US as she has already graduated from Purdue University in Indiana last year.