The Singapore team’s contingent for the Tokyo Olympics rose to 23 after sprinter Veronica Shanti Pereira and swimmer Quah Ting Wen both received stamps from their places yesterday.
They will take part in the Games from July 23 to August 8 on universality places, previously called wild cards, issued by the world authorities of their respective sports.
Their inclusion makes them Singapore’s most diverse contingent at the Olympics, with all 23 athletes participating in 11 sports. Five years ago, the 25-strong Singapore squad featured in just seven sports.
While Quah, 28, has swam in two previous editions, Beijing 2008 and Rio 2016, Singapore’s fastest woman, Pereira, will bow to the sport’s biggest stage.
The 24-year-old, who holds the national records in the 100m and 200m for women, will participate in this last event in Tokyo, where she will be the only representative of the Republic in athletics.
The World Athletics Olympic Qualification System states that National Olympic Committees without a qualified male or female athlete or relay team will be allowed to enter their highest ranked male or female athlete in any event, except the 10,000m, from 3000 m steeplechase and combined events such as the decathlon.
She set the 200m record (23.60 seconds) at the 2015 SEA Games, when she won the Republic’s first sprint gold medal at the regional biennial in 42 years.
Pereira, who graduated from Singapore Management University in April, told the Straits Times she was thrilled.
“It’s something I used to work and train for, but still can’t really believe it,” she said.
“I couldn’t go in 2016, so I kind of lived up to my expectations this time around.
“But when I started doing things like collecting my Singapore team outfit (for Tokyo), things just got more real.”
She had been the favorite for the Women’s Universality spot in 2016, but marathoner Neo Jie Shi qualified for the Rio Games on merit after finishing among the top 10 women at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon in 2015. Instead, sprinter Timothee Yap went as a representative of men’s universality, and ran the 100m.
Pereira said she did not set a goal in Tokyo, given that the Olympics will be her first high-level 200m race since the 2019 SEA Games, when she won a bronze medal in 23.77 seconds.
Instead, she just wants to continue the progress she made under coach Luis Cunha, who she started working with in January of last year.
“I don’t think (expectation) that much … Last year we almost couldn’t compete at all, so I’m just focusing on training and hoping to perform regardless. the race, ”Pereira said.
Cunha, 56, is a former Olympian who represented Portugal at the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Games in various sprint events.
He was sure she would benefit from rubbing shoulders with the best athletes in the world.
“I hope she can enjoy the experience of being an Olympian, and it can be in a number of ways,” said Cunha.
“The idea is not only to perform well (with better competition), but also to enjoy the environment of the Olympic Games.”
Multiple SEA Games gold medalist Quah also said winning a ticket to the Olympics amid the pandemic was a victory in itself.
She will compete in the 50m and 100m freestyle. She had qualified as the top-ranked athlete on the basis of the Fina points table at the end of last month, the Singapore Swimming Association announced yesterday.
Quah said she and her training mates have been trying to qualify for the Olympics since the start of 2019, a grueling physical and mental strain considering how the pandemic has made their training “so stretched and inconsistent. “.
She added: “I am really proud of how everyone has been successful and managing the best they can.
“To have so many people having really quick ‘B’ cups and being all close to making the squad and not qualifying is difficult, and I’m disappointed that there aren’t more people. .
“It was the goal after Rio, that there were more of us together. Anyway, I am proud to be able to carry the flag and represent my country in Japan and I will do my best to make everyone proud. . “
Quah, who finished 34th in the 100m butterfly in Rio and swam the 100m freestyle (35th) and the 400m individual medley (25th) at the 2008 Beijing edition, will be among four Singaporean swimmers in Tokyo.
The others are her younger brother, Zheng Wen, 24, Olympic champion Joseph Schooling, 26, and open water specialist Chantal Liew, 22.