PETALING JAYA: Welson Sim (pic) showed he’s up for a triple gold challenge at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games after winning the men’s 18 and over 1,500m freestyle final at the Singapore National Age-Group Swimming Championships.
The 19-year-old, who is the only swimmer in the elite-only Podium Programme, posted a blistering time of 15:31.10 to claim his third gold of the championships on Sunday.
Two of his likely rivals at the Aug 19-31 Games – Perwira Aflah Fadlan of Indonesia and Pang Sheng Jun of Singapore – settled for the silver (15:34.50) and bronze (16:03.97) respectively.
The time was a new personal best for Sarawak-born Welson, who clocked 15:32.63 in his Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro last year.
Welson thus completed a sweep of the middle and long distance titles, having earlier won the 200m and 400m freestyle. He is now the odds-on favourite to take both the golds at the Games.
It’s the 1,500m freestyle that he’s hoping to score a bonus victory. His latest time is just outside the Games record of 15:31.03 set by Lam Quang Nhat of Vietnam at the 2015 Singapore Games.
In his debut in Singapore, Welson won the 400m freestyle but settled for the bronze in the 200m discipline. He did not compete in the 1,500m freestyle.
“Welson swam a strong 1,500m race. I’m happy with the time for now as he’s still not tapered for competitions yet. There is room to improve further,” said national coach Paul Birmingham.
There were also cheers for Malaysia as the quartet of Tern Jian Han, Wong Fu Kang, Chan Jie and Keith Lim set a new national record en route to bagging the silver in the men’s 18 and over 4x100m medley relay behind Indonesia.
The Malaysians clocked 3:45.28 to smash the 18-year-old national mark of 3:45.61 set by Lim Keng Liat, Elvin Chia, Anthony Ang and Allen Ong at the 1999 Brunei SEA Games.
Malaysia ended the championships with a 3-3-2 haul.
“It was a mixed bag of results for our squad. Some swimmers did good times at this stage of the season but some need more work,” said Birmingham.