Chantal Liew has become the first Singaporean open water swimmer to qualify for the Olympics.
The 22-year-old earned her ticket to Tokyo after finishing the 10km race with a timing of 2:12:20 (hrs:mins:secs) at the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifiers in Setubal, Portugal on Jun. 19, according to the Singapore Swimming Association.Liew — who placed 29th out of 40 — was the best Asian finisher behind two Japanese swimmers.
With Japan hosting the Olympics and therefore having a guaranteed slot, Liew's placing earned her Asia's sole continental quota spot.
Tokyo Olympics Liew's swan song
In an interview with The Straits Times after her race, the marathon swimmer admitted that she struggled in Portugal having last competed in February 2020.
She also said that she did not "put my race together" as she would have liked.
Despite this, Liew managed to overtake her main rival for the Asian quota spot — Hong Kong's Nip Tsz Yin — in the final 2.1km of the race.
Liew's coach of four years, Marcus Cheah, told The Straits Times that he hoped the pair would be allowed to work in a training bubble after returning to Singapore, with a view towards increasing preparations for the Olympic Games which is just 33 days away.
The event will likely be Liew's swan song from the sport.
The 22-year-old — who is also Singapore's first female open water swimming medalist at the SEA Games — plans to retire after Tokyo and pursue her studies.
"I want to refocus, and make sure that in Tokyo, I will swim a race that I can be proud of," she said to The Straits Times.
Top image from Singapore Swimming Association and SNOC's Instagram pages