PETALING JAYA: Manchester Commonwealth Games silver and bronze medallist Lim Keng Liat will bid to create history when he leads Malaysia's challenge in the 10th World Swimming Championships, which will be held in Seville from July 13-27.
The Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) have named six swimmers for the championships, which serve as the main qualifying event for the Athens Olympics next year.
And based on his recent achievements in the NCAA's (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division One swimming meet in the United States in March, Asum are banking on Keng Liat to become the first Malaysian swimmer to qualify for the final of the 100m backstroke in the world meet.
Keng Liat, who represented the University of California, clocked 46.59 to finish third behind national champion Peter Marshall and Olympic silver medallist Aaron Peirsol in the 100 yards backstroke.
At the last world meet in Fukuoka in 2001, Keng Liat made it to the top 16 semi-finals.
Asum secretary Edwin Chong said that Keng Liat had a very good chance of qualifying for the Olympics under category A in his pet event.
“His time of 55.18, which won him a silver medal in the Busan Asian Games last October, is inside the A qualifying standard of 55.63,” said Edwin.
“Keng Liat's main goal is to qualify for the Olympics. We hope he can make it to the top eight final. He is working very hard towards this goal.”
The 22 year-old Sabahan, who trains under American Mike Bottom, is the only swimmer in South-east Asia whose time is inside the A qualifying standard. The B qualifying mark is 58.41.
A country is allowed to have two swimmers in the Olympics if both of them meet the A qualifying standard. Only one swimmer can be fielded if he qualifies under the B mark.
Besides Keng Liat, the other US-based swimmers for the world meet are Allen Ong, Lubrey Lim, Wong Tuck Kar, Saw Yi Khy and top national woman swimmer Siow Yi Ting.
Allen, Lubrey, Tuck Kar and Yi Khy will be making their debut in the world meet. They will also be vying for places in the team for the SEA Games, which will be held in Vietnam in December.
The swimmers qualify on merit for the Games if they meet the second place mark of the previous edition in Kuala Lumpur.
Besides the swimmers, Asum have also named four divers for the world met. They are Leong Mun Yee, Norzanizal Najib, Rossharisham Roslan and Low Lap Bun. Two synchronised swimmers Suzanna Ghazali Bujang and Sara Kamil Yusof will also make the trip to Seville.
Edwin said that the National Sports Council (NSC) have given the go-ahead for Asum to send the athletes for the World Championships.
National athletes have been advised against travelling overseas for competitions and training because of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
Swimming: Lim Keng Liat, Lubrey Lim, Saw Yi Khy, Allen Ong, Wong Tuck Kar, Siow Yi Ting.
Diving: Leong Mun Yee, Rossharisham Roslan, Norzanizal Najib, Low Lap Bun.
Synchronised swimming: Suzanna Ghazali Bujang, Sara Kamil Yusof.