Tokyo Paralympics: Toh Wei Soong breaks national record but narrowly misses out on medal

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Singapore swimmer Toh Wei Soong during the men's 50m butterfly (S7) heats at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Sport Singapore)
Singapore swimmer Toh Wei Soong during the men's 50m butterfly (S7) heats at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Sport Singapore)

SINGAPORE — Swimmer Toh Wei Soong narrowly missed out on becoming the fourth Singaporean to win a Paralympic medal on Friday (3 September), when he finished fourth in the men's 50m butterfly (S7) final at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

The 22-year-old clocked a national record time of 29.50 seconds but missed out on the podium as he finished 0.16sec behind bronze medallist Carlos Sarrano of Colombia.

The United States' Evan Austin won the gold in 28.98sec, while the Ukraine's Andrii Trusov earned the silver in 29.03sec.

"I think I did a pretty good job at carrying out my race plan, not letting my nerves get to me and I went out there and gave my best," Toh said after the race.

"Being able to shave off almost two seconds from my butterfly 50m is tremendous. We've been working on a lot of things the past few years, and those things haven't come to full potential yet, so there's definitely a lot of room for improvement. 

"I'm excited for the next few years because it means a lot more new experiences, a lot more new times, it's going to be a great few years."

Toh had already broken the national record during the morning heats, touching the wall in 29.90sec to erase the previous mark of 31.60sec, which he had set in January's Singapore Disability Sports Council swim trial.

Had he won a medal, he would have followed in the footsteps of past Singapore Paralympic medallists Laurentia Tan (one silver and three bronzes in equestrian), Yip Pin Xiu (five golds and one silver in swimming) and Theresa Goh (one bronze).

Nonetheless, he finished his debut Paralympic campaign with two new national records to his name, in the men's 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly.

Toh - who was diagnosed with transverse myelitis which leads to weakness and numbness of the limbs - rose to prominence at the 2015 ASEAN Para Games where he won three golds for Singapore, and followed up his feat by winning two more at the 2017 edition. 

He went from strength to strength in 2018, winning two golds at the Asian Para Games and becoming the first Singapore para-athlete to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games.

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