PETALING JAYA: Two-time Olympian Welson Sim could miss the boat to the SEA Games for the first time unless he gets his act right in the Malaysian Open swimming championships starting in Bukit Jalil today.
Welson needs to beat the bronze medal qualifying mark at the Vietnam SEA Games to make the cut for this year’s edition in Cambodia in May.
The 25-year-old from Sarawak is a three-time SEA Games gold medallist but won none in the individual events at the last edition. He, however, made up for it by winning a silver in the 4x200m freestyle team relay event.
Welson used to be the top middle distance freestyle swimmer before Kuala Lumpur’s Khiew Hoe Yean stepped into the limelight.
Welson left his full-time training base in Bukit Jalil last year to train on his own early last year and has been training at D Swim Academy since then.
He has competed in every SEA Games since 2013.
The Cambodia SEA Games qualifying mark for the 200m freestyle is 1:49.35 and 3:56.68 for the 400m freestyle.
Malaysia Swimming Federation (MSF) secretary Mae Chen said the performances from the Malaysian Open meet would be used to determine the squad going for the SEA Games.
“It will be interesting to see whether Welson can make the cut for the SEA Games in his pet individual events,” said Mae.
“The Olympic Council of Malaysia have ruled that the athletes who are over 23 years of age must qualify on merit for the SEA Games and not go under category B for swimming.
“Welson thus needs to beat the SEA Games bronze placing time.
“For the swimmers who are based outside Malaysia, they need to submit their best timings from recent competitions they had taken part in,” she said.
Welson will be pushed hard in the meet with strong competition coming from Vietnam SEA Games 200m freestyle gold medallist Hoe Yean.
The 20-year-old is the hot favourite to sweep the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1,500m freestyle titles over the next four days of competition.
Besides the local swimmers, foreign entries will also come from Taiwan and Thailand.