SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singaporean swimmer Joseph Schooling scooped up another two gold medals at the 28th Southeast Asian Games on Monday, taking him almost halfway to his goal of winning nine events at the region’s biggest multi-sports events.
The 19-year-old followed up his two golds on Sunday with another double, easily winning the 50 metres freestyle and 200m butterfly to make it four from four.
A class above his rivals, Schooling has broken the SEA Games record in all of the races he has contested so far, as well as getting under the ‘A’ qualifying time for next year’s Rio Olympics in three different events -- 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly.
Texas-based Schooling just missed out on the Olympic ‘A’ time for the 50m freestyle but did break Singapore’s longest standing national record, which was set 33 years ago.
Schooling’s 18-year-old team mate Quah Zheng Wen finished second in the 200m butterfly shortly after winning the 200m backstroke to capture his sixth medal at Singapore’s new Aquatic Centre.
Quah now has three gold and three silver medals and another six events to go at a meet where the top swimmers often amass huge medal hauls because of the small fields.
The youngest swimmer in the swimming competition is Oo Shun Lei Maw, from Myanmar. She is just 10 years old and has finished last in all her events.
“They are so fast and I am the slowest one!” she said. “I want to be better than the slowest one.”
Quah’s older sister Ting Wen, 22, captured two more gold medals on Monday, denying Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Anh Vien a fifth title in three nights by winning the 100m freestyle, then helping the host-nation win the 4x200m freestyle relay.
The siblings have a younger sister, 14-year-old Jing Wen, who won a bronze on Saturday.
Nguyen won four golds over the first two nights but had to be content with a silver and a bronze on third day, giving her six medals from seven of the 11 events she has entered.
Singapore have dominated the first few days of the Games to open up a lead at the top of the medals table, followed in order by Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.
The Games were awarded to tiny Singapore as part of the country’s year-long celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of independence from Malaysia.
But the festive mood was subdued on Monday as both countries observed a day of mourning for the 16 victims of the Mt Kinabalu earthquake in Borneo.
Flags were flown at half-mast and a minute’s silence was observed at every venue where the SEA Games is being held.
Some members of the Singaporean team are also receiving counselling and guidance as Muhammad Azreen, a national sepak takraw player, fights for his life.
The 25-year-old remains in a critical condition in a Singapore hospital after undergoing two operations following a motorcycle accident on Sunday that resulted in the death of his younger brother.
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty