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Tokyo2020: Phee Jinq En Breaks National Swimming Record, Farah Ann Out & More

On a bleak day for Malaysia, there were a few shining lights.

Cover image via Majlis Sukan Negara/Bernama & Astro Arena (Youtube)

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In the qualifying heat for the 100m breaststroke, national swimmer Phee Jinq En broke the national record she set just two years prior

Phee set a blistering pace of 1:08.40 in the Heat 2 race held at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on 25 July, beating out swimmers from Croatia, Panama, and Mauritius among others to place second, behind only Andrea Podmaníková of Slovakia.

The time is a fraction of a second quicker than the 1:08.50 which she set en route to winning SEA Games gold in Manila back in 2019.

"I'm very tired and hungry," she said jokingly to Astro Arena after her race, adding that she was "really, really satisfied with her race", and that she "couldn't be happier".

However, when the final standings were compiled, she placed 29th out of 43 swimmers. This means that she will miss out of advancing to the semi-finals, as only the top-16 swimmers qualify.

Despite missing out on advancement for her signature event, she will have another shot at the 200m breaststroke, which will take place on Wednesday, 28 July at roughly 6:30pm Malaysian time, depending on which Heat she is placed in.

This comes after her male counterpart, Welson Sim, had failed to progress past the qualifiers for both the 200m and 400m freestyle, despite posting a personal best time in the former. This sharp decline in performance has been attributed to an injury he sustained from a motorcycle accident in March, as per New Straits Times.

Phee Jinq En after her race.

Image via Stadium Astro/Astro Awani

In other Tokyo2020 developments, national gymnasts Farah Ann Abdul Hadi and Jeremiah Loo Phay Xin fail to advance past the qualifying round of their respective events

Amid much early fanfare, Farah Ann failed to shine in the individual all-around women's qualifying round, in which she ended the qualifiers in 68th place out of 85 gymnasts at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre.

A shaky start had proven costly, as she achieved 48.565 points after the four compulsory routines. She had set a score of 11.600 on the uneven bars, 11.566 on the balance beam, 12.233 for the floor exercise portion, before finishing strong with 13.166 points on the vault. For comparison, reigning Olympic champion Simone Biles of the USA had taken first place in qualifying with 57.731 points.

As for Jeremiah Loo, he exits Tokyo 2020 after finishing 62nd out of 66 competitors. The 23-year-old wildcard entry had collected a points total of 67.498 in qualifying, whereas the leaders had posted scores in the high 80s.

Only the top 24 gymnasts qualify to the all-around final, but both Farah Ann and Jeremiah Loo will take heart in their performance as both are making their Olympics debuts.

Farah Ann, 27, had qualified to Tokyo 2020 on merit at the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. She breaks a 17-year drought for Malaysian gymnastics after her coach Ng Shu Wai was the last Olympic gymnast to qualify at Athens 2004.

Image via Reuters/Malay Mail

Meanwhile, the Malaysian badminton contingent are having somewhat of a mixed bag in the group stages

In his Olympics debut, men's singles shuttler and medal hopeful Lee Zii Jia made quick work of his opponent Artem Pochtarov in the first group game.

The world number 8 defeated his Ukrainian rival 21-5, 21-11 after just 25 minutes to put his best foot forward in advancing from Group M.

He is expected to face a sterner test when he goes up against veteran French shuttler Brice Leverdez this Wednesday.

"I didnt expect him to put in such a bad performance, he made many mistakes, which I duly took advantage of," said Zii Jia after the straight sets victory.

Image via @ASTROARENA (Twitter)

Meanwhile, it is the end of the road for both our mixed doubles and women's doubles pairs, after they lost their opening two matches.

Goh Liu Ying and Chan Peng Soon, silver medallists at Rio 2016, fell to German pair Mark Lansfuß and Isabel Herttrich in straight sets 21-12, 21-15. This means they can no longer qualify, after also losing their first game to the duo from Hong Kong previously.

As for the women's doubles pair of Chow Mei Kuan and Lee Meng Yean, they had fought valiantly but fell 17-21, 21-15, 21-8 to the home team of Sayaka Hirota and Yuki Fukushima. This is their second straight loss in Group A, after going down in straight sets to Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia on Saturday, 24 July.

The men's doubles pair of Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, however, will take on veterans and world number two duo Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan later today. The Malaysian double, who are ranked seven places lower, had beaten Korean opposition in straight sets in their first game.

As for Soniia Cheah Su Ya, she is set to play her first match tomorrow at 1pm, facing off against Hungary's Laura Sárosi in her women's singles Group N opener.

Soh Wooi Yik and Aaron Chia will play their second Group D match at 6:20PM Malaysian Time later today.

Image via AFP/Utusan Malaysia

Earlier, the Youth and Sports Minister had set a target of three medals for the Malaysian contingent at Tokyo2020:

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