Paris Olympics: Singapore swimmer Quah’s Games hopes dashed after historic relay qualification

Paris Olympics: Singapore swimmer Quah’s Games hopes dashed after historic relay qualification Singapore quartet (from left) Quah Ting Wen and sister Jing Wen, and sisters Letitia and Levenia Sim at the World Aquatics Championships in February, where they qualified for the Paris. Photo: Instagram/TeamSingapore
  • Quah Ting Wen was a member of the women's 4x100m medley relay squad that qualified for the Games, but has been dropped by selectors

Singapore swimmer Quah Ting Wen has been dropped from her city's Olympic delegation, just days after being told to pack her bags for Paris.

Officials were forced to axe Quah because of squad sizes, despite the 31-year-old being part of the team that won qualification for Singapore in the women's 4x100-metre medley relay for the first time.

And, in a mirror image of the decision that sent Quah to the Tokyo Games three years ago, her spot in the team has gone to Gan Ching Hwee, who will also compete in the 800m and 1,500m freestyle.

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Quah had been set to compete at her fourth Olympics, but qualification rules meant Singapore Aquatics (SAQ) had to reduce the number of athletes they could take to the French capital.

"After signing everything on Thursday, I took out my luggage and I was like, let's get going [to Paris]," she said. "I was the one of the four to get Singapore's first relay team to the Olympics, but the same team will likely not be competing at Paris."

In 2021, the governing body had originally selected Gan, only for Quah to appeal and be handed the spot for Japan instead.

On Monday, Quah said her issue was not over who took part; rather, her frustration stemmed from being handed a spot that was then taken away 48 hours later.

"It is how this is not the first time this is happening that is the most frustrating part," she said. "I will say the same thing that I said three years ago: I do not want this to ever have to affect anyone again," she said.

As a team, Quah, with sister Jing Wen and national teammates Letitia Sim and Levenia Sim, met the Olympic qualifying criteria for the 4x100m medley relay at the world championships in February.

Jonathan Tan, who will compete in the 50m and 100m freestyle, and Letitia Sim qualified for the Olympics by meeting the 'A' standard, while Gan was offered an invitation, having reached the 'B' standard.

The city's governing body said Olympic qualification rules had forced its hand, and it had appealed to World Aquatics, who turned down the request to take a squad including six women.

"We made our case to World Aquatics that in addition to the two OQT swimmers and an OCT swimmer, sending the relay team that met the Olympics qualifying position would allow Singapore to send our best possible swimmers to the Olympics," Mark Chay, the SAQ president, said.

The OQT refers to the Olympic Qualifying Time, commonly known as the "A" standard, while the OCT is the Olympics Consideration Time, also known as the "B" standard.

Of the four swimmers, Letitia Sim was the only one who met the 'A' standard, in the 100m breaststroke. Unlike the individual events, there are no Olympic standards for relay qualification.

As such, global governing body World Aquatics granted Singapore an exemption to allow three relay-only swimmers to compete instead of the maximum of two.

However, World Aquatics later offered Gan an invitation to take part in the women's 1,500m event based on her 'B' time of 16:10.61 clocked earlier this month.

The global governing body then offered Singapore the choice of sending Gan or three relay-only swimmers.

Qualifying for Paris was a moment of redemption for the women's relay team, and the Quah sisters in particular, after they were disqualified in the final of the 4x100m medley relay at the Asian Games, handing Hong Kong a surprise bronze.

In Hangzhou, the quartet were penalised for a faulty change between Jin Wen (butterfly) and Ting Wen, who was racing the last leg of freestyle.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

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