KUALA LUMPUR: Swimmer Lim Keng Liat was the biggest recipient of rewards for athletes who won gold medals at the recent Vietnam SEA Games.
The United States-based swimmer received a total of RM17,250 for bagging four gold medals. He won the men's 100m and 200m backstroke, 100m butterfly and 4x200m freestyle events.
Under the National Sports Councils' reward scheme, each individual gold medal is worth RM5,000 while a team gold for events comprising four athletes is RM1,250 each. The Sabahan also received an additional RM1,000 for breaking a SEA Games record in the 100m butterfly.
The 23-year-old Keng Liat clocked 55:07 in Hanoi to erase the old mark of 55:40 set by Malaysia's Anthony Ang in the 2001 Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Keng Liat, who has earlier qualified for the Athens Olympics for the 100m and 200m backstroke, also made the cut for the 100m butterfly at the Vietnam Games.
The NSC gave out a total of RM231,000 to 54 athletes yesterday. But Keng Liat was not present to receive the reward from Youth and Sport Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein during a Hari Raya celebration at Bukit Jalil.
He had to return to Florida to sit for his university examinations immediately after the Games swimming programme ended on Dec 11.
Fifteen-year-old Durratun Nashihin Rosli, who made her Games debut, received the second highest reward of RM16,250 for bagging four gold medals in rhythmic gymnastics.
The Bukit Jalil Sports School student, who won the all-round, clubs, hoop and team gold medals, said that she was happy to be among the top contributors to Malaysia's total haul of 44 gold medals.
“I was making my first appearance in the SEA Games in Vietnam and I did not expected to win four gold medals. The money I got today (yesterday) was the first time I earned rewards in my gymnastics career,” said Durratun, who pledged to train much harder for the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.
“My mum will use some of the money for a kenduri (feast). I will also take a break by going for holidays.”
Another US-based swimmer Siow Yi Ting was the third big winner of the rewards, receiving RM15,000 for winning three gold medals from the 100m and 200m breaststroke and 400m individual medley.