SHAH ALAM: Swimmer Phee Jinq En has played down her chances of qualifying for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games despite her rapid rise in the last nine months.
The 18-year-old breaststroke specialist has been in the fast lane ever since winning the SEA Games gold medal in Singapore last June. She has since gone on to smash the national records in the 50m and 100m events.
At the start of the year, Jinq En set herself a modest target – to dip under 1:09 in the 100m breaststroke event. Amazingly, she accomplished it in just her second outing of the year – at the Singapore National Age-Group Championships two weeks ago.
|Two of a kind. Selangor’s Phee Jinq En (right) and Sarawak’s Erika Kong make a 1-2 finish in the 50m breaststroke event in the National Age-Group Championships. – KAMARUL ARIFFIN/The Star|
Jinq En posted a sizzling 1:08.99 to break her own previous national mark of 1:09.64 set at the FINA Swimming World Cup leg in Dubai in last November.
But the Selangor-born girl still has her work cut out for her if she’s to guarantee a spot at the Olympics with the A qualifying time of 1:07.85.
“I’ve had an amazing run since the SEA Games and am pleased with the improvements I’ve made,” said Jinq En after strolling to victory in the 50m breaststroke event in the National Age-Group Championships at the Shah Alam Aquatic Centre here on Friday.
“But I have to be realistic ... I can’t expect to dip below 1:08 and make the A cut in the next couple of months.
“After all, I’ve only managed 1:08.99 and 1:09.64 once.
“It’s okay to miss Rio as I have my sights set on Tokyo 2020. I’m happy to wait.”
The 50m breaststroke gold yesterday was Jinq En’s second in the age-group meet, following her 200m breaststroke triumph on Thursday.
Jinq En won in 32.06, followed by Erika Kong of Sarawak (33.20) and Macau’s Lei On Kei (33.68).
Jinq En can make it a hat-trick of golds when she competes in the 100m breaststroke tomorrow.
Fellow SEA Games champion Wong Fu Kang of Johor also did well to win the men’s 50m breaststroke in the 15-17 category.
He clocked 28.78 – just 0.11 of a second off his own national mark of 28.67 – to beat Malacca’s Foong Wei Tze (29.54) and Adam Afif Faizal (30.64) of Kuala Lumpur.
Golden boy Welson Sim had no problems winning the boys’ Open 400m freestyle race in 3:55.18.
Former SEA Games gold medallist Kevin Yeap of Perak claimed silver in 4:06.44 while Johor’s Tiaa Faang Der took bronze in 4:10.27.