Daniel Bego is competing in three events at the Islamic Solidarity Games – the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle.
KUALA LUMPUR: Swimmer Daniel Bego turned 24 Wednesday with one birthday wish – to win at least a gold medal in the third edition of the Islamic Solidarity Games in Palembang, which begins on Sunday.
The Miri-born swimmer was the hero in the inaugural Islamic Solidarity Games in Saudi Arabia in 2005, winning two of the five gold medals.
He won the men’s 200m and 400m freestyle. Malaysia's other gold medals came from diving (two) and karate (one).
The second Islamic Solidarity Games in Tehran, Iran, in 2010 were cancelled due to a dispute between the host and Saudi Arabia over the use of the name “Persian Gulf”.
Daniel will compete in three events this time – 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle.
Although it was his birthday, Daniel continued to train twice in preparation for the Games.
“There was no break for me on my birthday as my coach Paul Birmingham wants me to be fit and stay focused on the Games,” said Daniel, who skipped the 2011 Indonesia SEA Games to undergo surgery to both his shoulders.
He only resumed training last November and competed in the World University Games in Kazan in July, where he achieved the season best in the 100m and 200m freestyles by clocking 50.80 and 1:51.10 respectively.
Daniel, who holds both the 100m (50.16) and 200m (1:49.22) freestyle national records, said that he would be more than happy to return home with at least a gold medal as “I’m not sure of the strength of the other swimmers”.
A total of 137 Malaysian athletes will compete in 10 of the 13 sports at the Islamic Solidarity Games, which will end on Oct 1.
The sports are athletics, archery, badminton, beach volleyball, karate, swimming, taekwondo, tennis, weightlifting and wushu. Malaysia will not feature in basketball, football and volleyball.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told the athletes to give their best at the Games.
“The Games will also be a good platform for our athletes in preparation for the Myanmar SEA Games,” he said after handing over the Jalur Gemilang to Palembang Islamic Solidarity Games chef de mission Datuk Megat Zulkarnain Omardin in Bukit Jalil on Wednesday.