It was an absolutely incredible night for British International School, Phuket (BISP) in the pool on Sunday 7 June at the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
In one evening, the school’s student-athletes – representing Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand, respectively – brought home one gold, one silver and one bronze medal, in intense competition against the finest swimmers in the whole of Southeast Asia.
Year 11 student Fukang Wong stole the show with a blistering second 50m of the 100m Breaststroke to move from third to first in the final 25m of the race to take gold for Team Malaysia in 1 min 02.46.
Next up was Year 11 student Phiangkhwan ‘Eing’ Pawapotako, racing in the 200m Individual Medley for Team Thailand. Eing swam a very tactical race and pulled into a clear second position by the final turn, but needed to fight the final length to hold off the fast finishing Singaporean, taking second place in a 2 min 18.56.
Earlier on in the evening, BISP graduating student Roxanne Yu, representing Team Philippines, fought a tough and strategic battle in the 200m Backstroke, swimming a new personal best of 2min 18.45 and racing to a bronze medal position after turning fifth at the 100m mark.
Also in the 200m back final was BISP Year 12 student Chantal Liew, representing Team Singapore, who posted a 2min 23.96 finishing in eighth position.
BISP JSA Swim Academy Head Coach Simon Jones, who was also Head Coach for Team Thailand at the SEA Games, said that evening, “What a night team; each and every one of you made me, [Assistant] Coach Chris Gaffney, and your teammates back home in Phuket very proud. Congratulations and the best of luck to those still to race.”
The day before, on Saturday 6 June, Eing claimed BISP’s first medal of the SEA Games, the silver medal in the 400m Individual Medley behind Olympic superstar Vien Thi Anh from Vietnam.
Eing raced to a new personal best, another Olympic qualifying standard in the medley events and a World Championship qualifying time for Kazan, Russia this summer.
Both Eing and Fukang now have three Olympic and World Championship qualifying times between them. In addition, Fukang has also been selected for the Malaysian team at the Commonwealth Youth Games, which take place in Samoa this September.
On Tuesday (9 June) evening, Roxanne blasted her way to bronze in the Women’s 100m Backstroke final with yet another personal best time.
The 18 year-old BISP student, who is heading to the University of Miami in the summer, and is representing Team Philippines at the SEA Games, showed her trademark finishing speed, dropping below 1min 05 for the first time, finishing in 1min 04.80 behind Olympic finalist Tao Li of Singapore and Kania Ratih of Indonesia.
On the penultimate day of competition on 10 June, BISP swimmers bagged another two medals in the Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay final, with Eing leading the Thailand team to silver, and Roxanne helping win bronze for the Philippines team.
On the last day of swim competition, Thursday 11 June, first up was 16 year-old BISP student Fukang Wong, who posted a swift Malaysian Record, breaking 28.67 in the Mens 50m Breaststroke to finish in bronze medal position.
Next up was 14 year-old Raine Gavino, competing in her first SEA Games and managing to final, alongside BISP’s Year 11 student Eing in the Womens 200m Breaststroke. However, this race was really all about Eing up against Vietnamese Olympian Vien Thi Anh Nguyen, who had already won 7 gold medals at the SEA Games.
The race was an absolute show stopper, with Eing splitting a fraction behind Nguyen at the 100m mark in 1min 13.42, and fighting back neck and neck through until the last 15m, with Nguyen out-touching Eing for the gold, but pushing Eing to a Thailand National Record, Olympic B qualifying time and a silver medal time of 2min 31.51.
Last but not least, Fukang was back in the pool for Team Malaysia in the 4x100m Medley Relay, splitting an incredible time of 1min 01.77 on the breaststroke leg. Malaysia finished in 4th place overall, but Fukang’s times are an indicator of some exciting races ahead.
“Over the week, our BISP swimmers have given their all,” said Head Coach Simon Jones.
“They been involved in multiple races, experienced TV interviews – some for the first time – witnessed some truly world class swimming – some by themselves – and most importantly made new friendships. Its been a truly wonderful experience, and for myself, an honour to have represented Team Thailand as a coach.”
“Congratulations to first time SEA Games swimmers Raine Gavino, Chantal Liew and Roxanne Yu for your efforts, and to Eing and Fukang for continuing to inspire us all.
“For those younger swimmers dreaming of joining us on this stage, and who are prepared to put in the hard work required to make it, I could not recommend applying to the BISP JSA Swim Academy more strongly! Farewell SEA Games, until next time – Malaysia 2017!”
With one gold, four silver, and four bronze medals – as well as more than five National Records, and four Olympic Qualifying Times – at the 28th SEA Games, BISP’s swimmers won more medals than Laos, Brunei and Timor Leste. To put it another way, if BISP were a country, they would have come ninth out of 12 in the overall medal standings.