Chastened after her swim at the London Games, Tao Li is adopting a 'one year at a time' mantra
Four years ago, Tao Li became the first Singaporean to qualify for an Olympic swimming final at the Beijing Games. She finished fifth in the women's 100m butterfly, clocking 57.99 seconds.
There was a lot of optimism back then. Tao Li was 18, and seemed destined for success on the world stage.
She was already an Asian Games gold medallist, after winning the 50m fly in 2006 in Doha, where she also claimed bronze in the 100m fly. Soon after her stunning performance in Beijing, Tao Li proclaimed she was gunning for a medal at at the 2012 Olympics.
Four years on, her bullish optimism is gone.
After her almost-pedestrian performance in the 100m fly at the London Olympics two months ago, the 22-year-old is not talking about chasing a medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The New Paper caught up with the swimmer yesterday, shortly after her return from a two-month post-Olympic break.
She said: "Four years is too long and I cannot picture it right now. I will take it year by year and see how I compare with the top swimmers each season. "My aim is to be among the top swimmers in the world in the major meets, and everything I do now will bein preparation for the next Asian Games. "I will make an assessment after looking at the situation in 2015, a year before the Olympics."
Singapore's most successful swimmer failed to make the final of the 100m fly at the London Games, finishing 10th after clocking 58.18sec in the semi-finals.
It was a long way off from her national record of 57.54, which she set in the semi-finals of the 2008 Olympics when she wore the now-banned "super suit".
Over the last four years, the Singapore Sports School graduate has failed to hit the times she clocked during that glorious Olympic season four years ago, which perhaps explains why Tao Li is no longer looking so far ahead.
Right now, she is focused on retaining her 50m fly title at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, where she also hopes to set a new national record in the 100m fly.
In an earlier interview, her coach and newly-appointed Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) technical director, Ian Turner, had said that his charge returned from the 2008 Olympics and "took her eye off the ball".
But Tao Li disagreed with the Briton's assessment.