Heidi eyeing early Olympic qualification in Kazan

PETALING JAYA: National open water swimmer Heidi Gan is hoping to make a huge splash in her second World Championships appearance.

Unlike in Barcelona two years ago, the race in Kazan (Russia) will present Heidi an opportunity to qualify for her second Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year.

The 26-year-old will first compete in 5km competition on Saturday but her main focus will be on the all-important 10km race, which is the Olympic event on Tuesday.

The top 10 finishers will secure the first 10 of the 25 berths on offer.

The remaining 14 spots (with one berth going to hosts Brazil) will be determined at another Qualifying Tournament in Setubal, Portugal next year.
Setubal was where Heidi created history in 2012 by becoming first Malaysian to qualify for Olympics when she finished 16th which earned her a spot at the London Olympics in the same year.

In Kazan, and against a world class field of 56 competitors which includes two-time world champion Keri-Anne Payne of Britain and reigning Olympic gold medallist Eva Risztov of Hungary, it will take an extraordinary effort from Heidi to be in the top 10.

But Heidi is adamant that it’s not an impossible mission.

“Difficult it may seemed, I cannot limit myself because you never know what will happen during the race,” said Heidi, who is based in Perth.

“Realistically, I think I have a stronger chance in Portugal next year. Anyway, I have nothing to lose here in Kazan.”

Heidi, a double gold medallist at the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia, has achieved several creditable results in the last seven months.

In April, she splashed her way to a best-ever fourth placing in the third leg of the FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup series in Noumea, New Caledonia.

Another notable feat was when she successfully defended her 10km crown in Round 4 of the Swimming Western Australia Open Water Series in December.

Heidi Gan , Rio Olympic