KUALA LUMPUR: No one is more surprised than Welson Sim himself after winning the men’s Olympian of the Year award.
The 20-year-old bagged the prestigious Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) annual award for his two-gold stellar show at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August.
Not only did he win the 200m and 400m freestyle races, he also broke the meet records.
The Sarawak-born Welson retained his 400m freestyle title in 3:50.26. He beat Vietnam’s defending champion Hoang Quy Phuoc to the 200m freestyle gold medal in 1:47.76.
Fittingly, he was also named the Best Male Athlete for the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
The Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) pre-university student was ecstatic after receiving OCM’s recognition at the OCM Indoor Sports Complex yesterday.
“I’m surprised with this honour. I’m grateful to everyone for the support given to me in my pursuit for success in swimming,” said Welson, who deferred his studies to give his best at the KL Games this year.
Buoyed by the recognition, the sole swimmer in the Podium Programme intends to raise the bar at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, in April and the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia in August.
“I want to improve my personal best in both events,” said Welson, who has a good shot at becoming the first Malaysian swimmer in 16 years to stand on the Asiad podium next year.
He has met the Asian Games third-placed qualifying mark of 3:50.38 from Incheon four years ago after clocking a new SEA Games record of 3:50.26 in the 400m freestyle.
Cyclist Fatehah Mustapa won the women’s Olympian of the Year award for her strong performance at the KL Games.
She took part in four different categories – women’s keirin, women’s sprint, women’s team sprint and women’s time trial 500m – and won all four, making her the first cyclist to win four gold medals at the SEA Games.
The Women and Sport award went to Datuk Norminshah Sabirin for being the vocal voice in fighting for the rights of women athletes and raising the profile of women in sports.
The former Malaysian Netball Association (MNA) president also served as the country’s first woman chef de mission at the 2003 Hanoi SEA Games.
SportsUnite bagged the IOC Trophy for their involvement in sports development while two retired sports officials and eight retired athletes were inducted into the OCM Hall of Fame.