Gutsy Win

Star Swimmer Tao Li Reveals The Struggle Behind Her 100m Back Win

By Kelly Ng in Palembang
Photo by Nicky Loh/Getty Images for SSC

Butterfly queen Tao Li clinched her sixth gold medal with a win in the women’s 100m backstroke at the SEA Games in Indonesia on Nov 16. If it seemed like just another easy win for the swim star, it wasn’t, as she told Team Singapore.

Smooth As Silk

Swimming at the Jakabaring Aquatic Centre in Palembang, Tao Li looked smooth as silk as she powered her way to the gold in the women’s 100m back. She clocked 1:02.11, well ahead of Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Anh Vien (1:03.68) and Philippines’ Dorothy Hong (1:03.69). The time was not just a personal best. It was also a new national record and a new SEA Games mark.

Just Go

Yet, things, as Tao Li revealed, could have turned out so differently. For a start, she was suffering from a cold and fatigue. She even had thoughts of giving up. “Before I swam I was so tired! After the morning’s race (the heats), I thought of giving up. But my coach (Ian Turner) talked me through, and I performed much better at night.” Despite not being in tip-top condition before she started, the 21-year-old really gave it her all. “I just told myself not to think of anything, and just go!”

Six Golds

It paid off handsomely. And the butterfly ace now has six gold medals (three in individual events and three in relays) as she gets ready for her final, and favourite, event – the women’s 50m fly – today (Nov 17). Will we see another gold for Singapore then? Watch out for the action tonight on MediaCorp’s Channel 5.