Four years ago, she took on her first ever Olympics without any fear. She brought her ‘A’ game and made Singapore proud. This year though, Tao Li’s confidence has taken a beating. Her poor form in recent weeks has led to timings that didn’t allow her to qualify for the games. The high expectations from the 22 year old has led her feeling the pressure and the weight of the nation all on her.
“This Olympics is very important to me because this is my second one and everyone’s expectations of me are very high. My form has not been very good recently. I have been training very well but it has not translated into results at competitions,” stated Tao Li.
In the Beijing 2008 Olympics, she was the first ever Singaporean swimmer to reach a final at her maiden Olympic outing. She then went on to finish in fifth in the women’s 100m butterfly. Her spectacular efforts led to her breaking her own national record in the heats. From a timing of 58.96 seconds, she managed to bring it down to 57.77 seconds. Just when we though we had seem the best of her, she stunned us again during the semi-finals by clocking a time of 57.54 seconds, which still stands today. Unfortunately, since then, she has not been able to recreate that magic again.
In fact, the closest that she has gotten so far was during last year’s World Championship in Shanghai. Even then, she was only able to reach a 58.78 seconds timing. Ever since, her timing has not improved. This also led to a replacement coach in September. Ian Turner took over the role from Barry Prime, but Tao Li’s performance still has yet to be improved.
“My mum and my friends suggested that I may not be as focused on training as I was four years ago. Back then, I was studying and training at the Singapore Sports School, so there weren’t many distractions there. But I have since graduated and there are now outside interferences, such as the need to travel for training. I don’t feel that’s the reason though, since I still train when I have to,” she explained. For the full story, check it out here.
Although she may not be performing as well as the previous Olympics, we should still give her the support she needs. Qualifying for the Olympics is not an easy task, so we as Singaporeans, should be proud of what she has accomplished so far. At Happy Fish Swim School, we are providing our full support and we believe that she will be able to overcome the pressure!