KUALA LUMPUR: The country has been in need of a capable middle distance swimmer since Wan Azlan Abdullah and Die Ung of Sarawak left the scene last year. Melvin Chua could soon be filling the void.
The young Sarawakian hogged the limelight when he grabbed three golds on a second explosive day of action in the 39th National Age-Group Swimming Championships at Kuala Lumpur Swimming Complex in Cheras yesterday.
Nine meet records fell yesterday and Melvin had a hand in setting two of those. Like Die Ung, Melvin proved he is capable of excelling in the longer distance events as well by sweeping both the 400m freestyle and 400m individual medley events yesterday.
Melvin, competing in the 13-14 age group, won the 400m freestyle event in 4:27.84. Penang's Lee Way Joe took the silver with 4:35.39 while Sarawakian Reuben John Marcus (4:35.81) was third.
Melvin then left the opposition in his wake in the 400m individual medley, clocking 4:59.62 to dipped under Wong Kin Wai's meet record of 5:01.70 set in 2000. Penang's Kim Jun Ting was a distant second on 5:07.00 while Sarawakian Kenneth Phua took the bronze with 5:15.04.
The 14-year-old from Miri returned later to help the Sarawakian team smash the meet record in the 4x100m freestyle.
The quartet clocked 3:53.26 to erase the previous time of 3:55.79 set by the Kuala Lumpur team in 2001.
Silver and bronze went to the Penang and Perak teams, who clocked 3:57.60 and 4:01.61 respectively.
The triple feat by Melvin boosted his gold medals tally to four so far. He also won the 200m individual medley event on Friday and collected a silver in the 100m freestyle event behind compatriot Daniel Bego.
“I am happy to have won three golds today. Beating the meet record was a bonus as the competition was quite tough.
“I hope to continue with my fine form on the final day tomorrow,” said Melvin, a student of St Columbus School in Miri.
He represented his school in the Miri Inter-school meet recently and won nine golds. Like his predecessors Die Ung and Wan Azlan, Melvin said he harboured hopes of wearing national colours in the near future.