By LIM TEIK HUAT
|Good times : Lim Ching Hwang's impressive times has made him a serious contender at the Asian Youth Games in Nanjing.|
PETALING JAYA: Precocious teenager Lim Ching Hwang is fast for his age and has the potential to make a big splash for Malaysia when he competes in the Asian Youth Games (AYG) in Nanjing from Aug 16-24.
The 17-year-old swimmer has emerged fastest in the country for the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle from the recent Singapore national age-group meet.
And if he can show his performances are not flukes, Ching Hwang, who trains and studies in Singapore, has a big possibility of making history as the first Malaysian to win a medal in the pool at the AYG.
The Games is held every four years involving Olympic sports and Singapore hosted the inaugural meet in 2009.
National swimming coach Paul Birmingham felt Ching Hwang’s times of 50.87 for the 100m freestyle and 1:50.42 for the 200m freestyle makes him a serious medal contender.
For comparison, Ching Hwang’s time for the 100m freestyle is already faster than the silver medal effort of 51.28 from the previous AYG in Singapore, with the winner timed at 50.48.
His time for the 200m freestyle (1:50.42) is much faster than the gold medal winning time of 1:52.22.
“He is a talented kid. It takes a few years for him to develop and now he is turning out strong for his age,” said Birmingham.
“Ching Hwang will be very competitive for a medal, especially in 200m freestyle, when he swims in Nanjing. I hope he will also do well at the World Junior Championships in Dubai from Aug 26-31).
“But it depends on him and whether he is ready to swim in back-to-back meets.”
It was not surprising that Ching Hwang, who romped to four golds for Selangor at the Kuantan Sukma last year, was named the best male swimmer for the Singapore Sports School last year.
His timings in Singapore gave him early qualifications for the World Championships in Barcelona in July (for men’s 200m freestyle) as well as for the Myanmar SEA Games (100m and 200m freestyle).
The qualifying marks for the SEA Games in December are based on the silver medal timings in Indonesia two years ago – 50.98 for the 100m freestyle and 1:52.23 for the 200m freestyle.
Interestingly, his personal bests for 100m and 200m freestyle are not far off the national records currently held by Daniel Bego.
Daniel clocked 50.16 and 1:49.22 when he took gold for both races at the Laos SEA Games back in 2009 while wearing the hi-tech swimming suit, which has since been banned.