SEA Games 2015: What’s after the gold? // Danny Yeo

The new media is all gaga over Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen, but their teammate Danny Yeo Kai Quan is more than just the icing on the cake.

An undergraduate in SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Danny is no stranger to the gold and breaking records. Together with the men’s swimming team, the 25-year-old delivered record timings at the 28th SEA Games Men’s freestyle relays, contributing 2 out of the Republic’s total haul of 84 gold medals – all in the midst of his recovery.

Months leading up to the races were pretty hectic with morning practices from 5. 30 am to 7.30 am, and it’s back into the pool again after school from 4 pm to 7 pm. It’s as tiring as it sounds and his schoolwork had to be compromised at times, especially when he missed classes to compete in Spain. Collecting sneakers also became Danny’s avenue to de-stress. (I heard he has over a 100 pairs?!)

Danny credits his two dedicated coaches and an enthusiastic team that made up for the intense training sessions. “Every weekend we had camps too, to bond the team together and I think it showed during the games; how far our team has come.”

Danny began to swim because his sister was also into the sport. He nearly gave it up when he was 17, but in one of the races he swam ‘out of his mind’ and scored a personal best. He does the two-finger salute to the heavens (pictured) at every race in honour of his late father, another reason that keeps him going.

What are your meals like? 
Personally, I do not have a very strict diet – I eat whatever is available wherever I am and have some cheat meals on days that we do not have practice. I have a problem putting on weight so I think it might be because the training is too intense? Hahahaha.

What were your first thoughts when you realised you got the Gold?

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I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment. Everything I did paid off, and I also felt a sense of relief. Hearing the home crowd cheer sent chills down my spine, it was a surreal experience.

Would you count the medal as a personal achievement, or a national achievement?
I kind of feel it counts as both – on a personal level, this was my 8th gold medal in the 4 SEA Games I have participated in so far; I also see it as a national achievement because I swim not only for myself, but I also swim for my country. It is an honour to wear the flag and race for the nation.

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What would you have done differently in hindsight? Any regrets or last thoughts on SEA Games 2015?
I don’t think this is something I could have done differently, but I was bed-ridden 3 days before the games with tonsillitis and came down with high fever. I wasn’t able to perform to the level I knew I could and it was pretty disappointing for me. However, the team still came away with 2 gold medals so it’s mission accomplished for us.

What are your plans from now? (When do you think you’ll retire from the sport…?)
It’ll be the World Championships for me, and back to school after. As for when I will retire, I don’t have a set date yet; I think it is a year-to-year decision but I will definitely continue to swim as long as I am able to.

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“Dream big and never give up on your dreams. Your mind is the most powerful tool and never let anyone tell you otherwise.” 

If you missed out on the splash, be sure to catch playbacks on the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays. After the SEA Games, the swimmers were swiftly back in the pool again for the Neo Garden 11th Singapore National Swimming Championships. The meet concluded on 26 June and saw Danny bagging the gold for the 400m freestyle and silver for the 100m freestyle.

And they’ve got more to go. Here’s wishing Danny and the Team Singapore swimmers all the best for the World Championships in Kazan, Russia in end July!

Photos by Lionel Khoo, Adrian Seetho and Glen Yong.

About the author

Mendi Ang

Mendi Ang is a young (patriotic) Singaporean student. Her musings can be gathered from her travel observations, chats with adorable old ice cream uncles and even your conversations on the train. Inspiration is all around.

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