PETALING JAYA: The glitzy city of Monte Carlo provided the perfect backdrop for swimmer Welson Sim to smash his national record en route to a stunning win on the Mare Nostrum Tour.
Welson did it in style by clocking 3:49.48 to beat reigning Olympic champion Mack Horton of Australia for the men’s 400m freestyle gold medal on Saturday evening.
Welson, who competed in the Rio Olympics last year, erased his previous national mark of 3:50.33 set at the national age-group swimming championships in Singapore in March last year.
Horton, who in April became the first Australian since Grant Hackett in 2008 to win the 200m, 400m and 1,500m freestyle races in his national championships, clocked 3:50.13.
China’s Qiu Ziao was third in 3:51.18 at the Prince Albert II Aquatic Centre.
The 20-year-old Welson is only the second Malaysian to have won on the Mare Nostrum Tour and his feat earned him a congratulatory message from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yesterday.
Phee Jinq En was Malaysia’s first-ever winner on the Tour when she triumphed in the women’s 50m breaststroke – also in Monaco – last year.
No fewer than 15 Olympic and world championships medallists are in Monaco for the first stop of the Mare Nostrum Tour.
The other stops are in Barcelona, Spain (June 13-14) and Canet, France (June 17-18).
National swimming coach Paul Birmingham was beaming with pride over Welson’s achievement.
“Obviously, I am pleased with the result. He has been really focused on his training.
“Before this meet, he swam a little more volume in training and it has benefited him,” said Birmingham.
Welson too was delighted, though he plans to keep his excitement in check.
“This is a nice result, but my focus is to do well at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August,” said the Sarawakian, who had also beaten Horton to take silver in the 400m freestyle at the Victorian Open Championships in Australia in January.
Jinq En, who was the second Malaysian to qualify for a final, posted 1:11.91 to finish sixth in the women’s 100m breaststroke. Reigning world champion Yuliya Yefimova of Russia won gold in 1:06.45.
Wong Fu Kang finished third in the B final of the men’s 200m breaststroke in 2:24.83 while Tern Jian Han was second in the B final of the men’s 100m backstroke in 58.40.