KUALA LUMPUR: Top national women swimmer Sia Wai Yen has made a shock decision to quit the sport and return home from the University of Florida where she is now studying. She cited personal problems for her decision.
The US-based swimmer cut short her studies in the US and flew home to Malaysia last month.
The petite 19-year-old is one of the six national swimmers who are currently getting funding for their studies from the National Sports Council (NSC). The others are Commonwealth and Asian Games silver medallist Lim Keng Liat, Allen Ong, Wong Tuck Khar, Saw Yi Khy and Siow Yi Ting.
She had been targeted to bring glory in the 2006 Commonwealth Games but is adamant about quitting, even turning down an offer by the NSC to continue her studies at the Universiti Putra Malaysia
I had been contemplating quitting the sport as I had gone through a difficult time with my studies. I took a lot of time off to train and prepare for the Busan Asian Games. When I went back to the States, I did not do well in the exams and they asked me to decide whether I wanted to concentrate full time on my studies or stop swimming. It was either one and because I was on NSC scholarship, I had to come back, said Wai Yen, who qualified for the finals of her respective events in the Asian Games.
The Olympian, who left for the US early last year, said she has made up her mind to quit competitive swimming.
With Wai Yen out, Malaysia's chances in the Vietnam SEA Games in December have taken a dive.
Wai Yen and Yi Ting were the first Malaysian women swimmers in 12 years to win gold in the SEA Games. Wai Yen won in the 400m individual medley while Yi Ting took the 200m breaststroke event in Kuala Lumpur 2001. Nurul Huda Abdullah had been the last to win in 1989.
I have tendered my resignation from the 2006 programme squad. I am not planning to compete in the SEA Games later this year or the World Championships in Seville in June. I do not think I can concentrate on training and qualifying for the Athens Olympics next year, added Wai Yen who also qualified for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Asked on her future plans, Wai Yen said she was taking up an offer from Sri Cempaka College in Cheras.
They have offered me a scholarship to major in business, provided I swim for them. My parents supported my decision to come back.
Wai Yen, holder of three national records in the 200m backstroke, 200m and 400m individual medleys, won the B finals in the 400m individual medley event at the KL Commonwealth Games in 1998.