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Emotional rollercoaster: Quah Ting Wen excluded from Paris Olympics squad despite qualification

Singaporean swimmer Quah Ting Wen has been dealt a devastating blow after Singapore Aquatics confirmed her exclusion from the national swimming squad for the upcoming Paris Olympics. The decision marks the culmination of a tumultuous period for the athlete, who had previously signed documents confirming her participation just days before.



SINGAPORE: Singaporean swimmer Quah Ting Wen has been dealt a devastating blow after Singapore Aquatics (SAQ) confirmed her exclusion from the national swimming squad for the upcoming Paris Olympics.

The decision, announced on Monday (8 July), marks the culmination of a tumultuous period for the athlete, who had previously signed documents confirming her participation just days before.

Quah, a seasoned Olympian with three previous Games under her belt, was a key member of the women’s 4x100m medley relay team that met the Olympic qualifying criteria earlier this year.

However, despite her earlier confirmation, SAQ’s decision to send Gan Ching Hwee instead, citing complex Olympic qualification rules, has left Quah sidelined.

SAQ President Mark Chay in a Monday press release expressed disappointment over the situation, stating, “It would have been ideal if we could have sent six athletes to the Games. ”

“We made our case to World Aquatics (AQUA) 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.

Mr Chay called the development “unfortunate,” adding, “I would like to put on record SAQ’s appreciation to Ting Wen for her dedication and commitment she has shown in this Olympic campaign.

“It is unfortunate that while the team met the qualifying position, it was one individual OQT shy of earning direct entry into the Olympics.”

“We understand her disappointment and empathise with her. We look forward to Ting Wen being an important part of our 2025 plans when we host the World Aquatics Championships and compete in the SEA Games.”

SAQ: athletes are selected “based on SAQ selection criteria”

Athlete selection for the Paris Olympics is based on strict criteria established since June 2023, said SAQ in a Monday statement.

Firstly, athletes who achieve the Olympic Qualifying Time (OQT) are considered, followed by those meeting the Olympics Consideration Time (OCT) and receiving invitations from AQUA.

Regarding relay teams, qualification hinges on meeting specific event marks. Despite the women’s 4x100m medley relay team initially meeting the Olympic qualifying mark, they exceeded the permissible limit of relay-only swimmers according to AQUA rules.

In February’s World Aquatics Championships, the quartet of Letitia Sim, Levenia Sim, Ms Quah, and Quah Jing Wen met the Olympic qualifying standard.

Of the quartet, only Letitia had met the OQT, meaning Singapore had three relay-only swimmers in Levenia, Ting Wen and Jing Wen.

Under AQUA’s rules, each relay team can include up to two relay-only swimmers.

However, on an “exceptional basis,” the body initially granted Singapore an extra relay-only slot. This was confirmed on 4 July when Singapore’s entry for the relay was solidified.

The following day, the world body extended an invitation to Singapore’s Gan Ching Hwee to compete in the 1,500m freestyle event and the relay, based on her Olympic Consideration Time (OCT) of 16 minutes and 10.61 seconds achieved earlier in the month.

SAQ clarified that the privilege of extra relay-only slot was rescinded after Gan accepted AQUA’s invitation on 5 July.

With Gan and Letitia qualifying for the relay, SAQ’s Selection Committee had to choose the remaining two slots for the relay team.

The committee selected Levenia Sim (backstroke), Letitia Sim (breaststroke), Quah Jing Wen (butterfly), and Gan Ching Hwee (freestyle), leaving Ms Quah out.

Quah appealed, but SAQ’s Appeals Committee upheld the original decision.

Further appeals by SAQ to reinstate the extra relay-only slot were also unsuccessful, leading to the final decision to exclude Quah from the team.

In response to the rejection of SAQ’s appeal by World Aquatics, Singapore will now be represented by a team of five swimmers across seven events in Paris.

This includes Jonathan Tan in the Men’s 50m and 100m freestyle, Letitia Sim in the Women’s 100m and 200m breaststroke, and Gan Ching Hwee in the Women’s 800m and 1,500m freestyle, alongside the Women’s 4x100m medley relay team.

Quah Ting Wen, visibly disappointed and emotionally drained, expressed her frustration to The Straits Times, describing the sequence of events as an emotional rollercoaster.

Reflecting on the journey from their historic qualification in February to the recent decision, Quah emphasized her disappointment in not being able to see the process through after signing confirmation documents just days before.

“I also don’t feel like it’s fair to the other three girls,” Quah remarked, showing concern for her teammates’ focus amidst the news.

Despite the setback, she remains uncertain about her future in swimming beyond this experience, stating, “I don’t want my career to end like this. But I do need time to process everything.”

Ms Quah is the most decorated athlete in SEA Games history, having amassed 16 medals from nine editions, including 34 golds.

The 31-year-old was honoured as the best athlete of the SEA Games in Cambodia in 2023.

She has competed in three Olympics and earned a bronze medal at the 2018 ASEAN Games.

Brother of Ms Quah criticises the decision

Singaporean swimmer Quah Zhengwen, brother of Ms. Quah, voiced his profound disappointment over the decision, criticizing the management’s handling of the situation as deeply disappointing.

He condemned the authorities for their lack of transparency, clarity, and honesty with the national athletes.

“The misrepresentation of information is quite frankly disgusting, and am in complete disbelief that the entire situation was managed in the way that it was.”

Source: Quah Zheng Wen’s Instagram story

Online backlash against SAQ’s handling of Olympic selection

Online sentiments also criticized SAQ’s handling of the situation, questioning how authorities could inform someone of their selection for the Olympics, have them sign documents, and then reverse their decision.

They highlighted Ms Quah’s dedicated four years of training for this moment.

A comment criticised World Aquatics’ qualifying policy, likening it to being invited to a birthday party only to have the invitation rescinded later because someone else was invited.

The comment expressed sympathy for the athletes who dedicate years of effort and sacrifice to prepare for the chance to compete on the world stage, only to see their dreams shattered by what they perceive as senseless rules.

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I am quite surprised since Quah TW has been contributing to the sports scene n she has also win the medals n surely she is a great asset.

Frankly, I am a little confused with the selection of the relay team after reading the article in The Mothership and the various permutations the writer offered. Since Gan Ching Hwee qualified in the 1500m event, why can’t she (Ching Hwee) just take part in that event and not complicate team selection in the relay event? There are 3 points to note: 1) the original team (which includes Ting Wen) qualified through its own effort. Thus, it makes sense to “reward” the same team members to race in Paris. Doing otherwise will be unfair to Ting Wen and disrupt team… Read more »

In truth, … SillyPore sports requires a bloody complete overhaul !!!

Get personnel in, that understands the sport involved, … has real experience and know what they’re doing and talking about.

Otherwise, you’ll have situations at SNOC with SRY, the FAS that’s clueless about football and now this !!!

Suppose, … it’s in keeping with this regime’s employment practice of hiring cronies, family, people who’ll be indebted to them, clueless clowns and promoting from within own circles !!!

And so, … the shit show and sham continues !!!


Last edited 3 days ago by Blankslate

Rules are rules, and as long as it is applied equally to all participating countries, then the selection decisions fall on the individual country. Singaporeans should accept that. But how our governing bodies make decisions is another matter. Take kitefoiler Maximilian Maeder, who is granted 3 years exemption from NS to represent SG internationally. His purpose, possible gain for SG and term of exemption are defined. But what about the ex-president’s son who was exempted NS for about 8-9 years? What was his role? What was he supposed to gain for SG? Why his exemption looked like a blank cheque?… Read more »

It’s okay. The team is unlikely to make it past the qualification rounds anyway. Ting Wen can tag along as an official of the Singapore contingent and spend her time trading pins with athletes from other countries 🙂

Why? Did she piss off anyone then or since?

I do empathize with Ting Wen.

However, it would have been a supreme act of generosity if Gan Ching Hwee were to forego her place seeing that Ting Wen had already been selected and trained with the team for the longest time.

I hope the new team will not have cracks in team spirit.

Didn’t the new Chief said, many paths to success and offered new success definitions too, like F off the C’s for now? So WTF in relation to this swimmer citizen one of us, no less a true Singaporean. I suppose one can crack his brain to take out what’s the meaning of a HDB flat, as a Store of Value to equate the meaning of many paths to successes. When they can explain the nature of the MParade bus stop built as it is built, then SG can truly understand how the PAP Administration works and we can safely vote… Read more »