KUALA LUMPUR: National swimming ace Welson Sim will be thrown into the deep end when he competes at the Asian Games.
But the youngster has no fear in facing the world’s biggest names in his quest for medals at the Games in Jakarta from Aug 18-Sept 2.
Instead, the 20-year-old is relishing the prospect of swimming against China’s Sun Yang, South Korea’s Park Tae-hwan and Japan’s Kosuke Hagino.
He knows that he must get the better of at least one of them in the 200m and 400m freestyle battles for a podium finish.
KL SEA Games gold medallist Welson is bidding to end Malaysia’s 16-year medal drought in swimming and become only the second Malaysian medal winner at the Asiad.
Backstroker Lim Keng Liat won a 100m backstroke gold at the 1998 Bangkok Games and settled for a silver medal at the 2002 Busan Games – and that was the last time Malaysia had produced an Asiad medallist in the pool.
“Finishing top three is certainly a daunting task when you’re up against the world and Olympic champions like Sun Yang, Hagino and Tae-hwan,” said Welson when met at the national athletes assembly yesterday.
“But, I’m going to try because winning an Asiad is my ultimate target this year.
“I’ve been pushing myself even more in the training after the SEA Games to raise my standard.”
Welson has met the Asian Games third place qualifying mark of 3:50.38 from Incheon four years ago after winning 400m freestyle gold in a new Games record of 3:50.26 at the KL SEA Games.
But his personal best was 3:49.48 set at the Mare Nostrum Tour in Monte Carlo, Monaco, in June last year. He beat reigning Olympic champion Mack Horton of Australia for the gold medal then.
In the 200m freestyle, Welson posted a personal best of 1:47.76 en route to winning against defending champion Hoang Quy Phuoc of Vietnam at KL Games.
“My preparations for the Games have been great. I have been able to swim close to my personal best consistently in training.
“I just have to keep it up and peak at the right time. My aim is to improve on my personal best and hopefully, it’ll be good enough to get strong results, and possibly a medal,” added Welson, who will also compete at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, from April 4-15.
Welson and the rest of the Commonwealth Games-bound swimmer will compete in the National Age Group Swimming Championships from March 15-18 at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil before heading to Australia.