PETALING JAYA: National swimmer Lim Keng Liat is gearing up for a supreme effort in his fifth appearance in the SEA Games in December.
The Sabahan, who became the first Malaysian to qualify for a final in the World Championships in Barcelona in July, wants to swim in eight events in the Vietnam Games.
Not only will he be defending the 100m and 200m backstroke gold medals, Keng Liat also wants shots at the gold medals in the 100m and 200m butterfly and 200m individual medley.
He will also help Malaysia win medals in the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m medley events.
The Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia's (Asum) secretary, Edwin Chong, said Keng Liat, who is back to compete in the Malaysian Open in Kota Kinabalu this weekend, has seen the schedule of events for the Games and made a request to compete in five individual events and three relays.
“He believes that he can cope with the schedule,” said Edwin.
The 23-year-old Keng Liat, who is ranked 10th in the world in the 100m backstroke, is able to compete in the Games because the professor at the University of California has allowed him to sit for his final examinations at a later date.
His examinations have been scheduled for Dec 5-16 and the Games swimming competitions will be held at the newly-built National Aquatics Stadium in Hanoi from Dec 6-10. Keng Liat will now have to leave Hanoi on Dec 11 and be in the United States on Dec 12.
Edwin added that it would be the first time that Keng Liat would swim in so many events in the Games.
“He took part in four individual events in the 1997 Games (in Jakarta). I believe that since he has indicated his interest to take up these many events, he will begin his gear-up for the assault in Hanoi,” said Edwin.
Keng Liat, who made his Games debut in Chiang Mai in 1995, has proved his ability in the butterfly events as well. He won his first SEA Games gold medal in the 200m butterfly in 1997.
He went on to win the two backstroke titles in the 1999 Games in Brunei and in Kuala Lumpur two years later.
Keng Liat has already qualified for the Athens Olympics next year under Category A with a time of 54.77 for the 100m backstroke at the world meet. It is a new Asian record.
Asum have already finalised their team of nine swimmers and eight divers for the SEA Games. The waterpolo players will be selected later.
Besides Keng Liat, the other swimmers are Allen Ong, Lubrey Lim, Saw Yi Khy, Daniel Bego, Ooi Kee Tzuen, Siow Yi Ting, Khoo Cai Lin and Chui Lai Kwan.
The divers are Noraznizal Najib, Khairul Safuan, James Sandayud, Bryan Nickson, Zibeon Uzza, Leong Mun Yee, Cheong Jun Hoong and Gracie Junita.
At the last Games, aquatics brought in the highest number of 19 gold medals – nine from swimming, a clean sweep of eight in diving and two from synchronized swimming – for Malaysia.
Synchronized swimming is not in the programme for the Games this time.