LIM Ching Hwang fulfilled a long-cherished dream at the Malaysia Open Swimming Championship by overcoming former Sea Games champion Daniel Bego in the men's 100 metre freestyle at National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
Ching Hwang, 16, regarded as Malaysia's brightest talent in the discipline, clocked 51.32 seconds for the gold medal while Bego surfaced on the wall as the second best finisher on 51.42. Hong Kong's Ng Chun Nam finished third in 51.95.
It was, however, not his personal best as the Singapore-based swimmer had clocked 50.87 in the recent Singapore age-group meet.
"It was a very exciting race and a huge honour to swim side-by-side with Bego and the other seniors. Obviously in childhood days, everybody wants to imitate their idols. I have been a huge fan of Bego and he is one of the reasons I took up the sport seriously," said Ching Hwang yesterday.
"As a youngster, I used to watch him swim in competitions. Bego is a good swimmer and one of the best I've swam against of late.
Ching Hwang, however, feels he can do better and become the best local swimmer in the freestyle discipline.
"I try my best to clock faster times in every race. I believe I can swim faster and do better. I must try to improve my strokes," said the delighted swimmer, who also helped Selangor clinch the 4x100m medley title yesterday.
Bego, who starred at the 2009 Laos Sea Games with five gold medals, however, is performing better since his shoulder surgery two years ago.
"Bego, I believe, is recovering really well and should return to his best soon. I was ill last week but decided on competing here to see how far I can go," Ching Hwang added.
The soft-spoken Ching Hwang will also compete in the 50m and 100m freestyle but is unsure about relay events.
Ching Hwang has decided not to compete in the World Championships in July in favour of the Asian Youth Championships in the following month. He has also qualified for next year's Youth Olympic Games in China.
Men’s 100m freestyle medal winners (from left) — silver medallist Daniel Bego, gold medallist Lim Ching Hwang and bronze medallist Ng Chun Nam. Pic by Goh Thean Howe
Reigning Sea Games champion Siow Yi Ting secured gold in the women's 100m breaststroke and the 400m individual medley by clocking impressive times for qualification to the world meet.
Men's 100m freestyle: 1 Lim Ching Hwang (Sel) 51.32sec, 2 Daniel Bego (Sar) 51.42, 3 Ng Chun Nam (HK) 51.95; 100m breaststroke: 1 Sandeep Sejwal (Ind)1:02.74 (MR), 2 Shaun Yap Kah Choon (Sel) 1:03.75, 3 Yap See Tuan (Pah) 1:04.45; 200m butterfly: 1 Vernon Lee (Sar) 2:05.08, 2 Tia'a Faang Der (Joh) 2:07.39, 3 Chi Chia Khian (Ked) 2:09.37; 400m individual medley: 1 Ian James Barr (KL) 4:41.29, 2 Eric Tan Chee Yun (Sab) 4:55.30, 3 Hollymax Bell (Sab) 5:09.66; 4x100m medley: 1 Selangor 3:54.32, 2 India 3:57.33, 3 Kuala Lumpur 4:02.51
Women's 100m freestyle: Sze Hang Yu (HK) 56.47, 2 Chan Kin Lok (HK) 57.76, 3 Chris Tan Li Ling (Sab) 59.75; 100m breaststroke: 1 Siow Yi Ting (NS) 1:10.73 (MR), 2 Christina Loh (KL) 1:12.06, 3 Phee Jing En (Sel) 1:13.58; 200m butterfly: 1 Khoo Cai Lin (Sel) 2:17.36, 2 Yap Siew Hui (Sel) 2:22.70, 3 Asmalia Filzati Redzuan (Sel) 2:22.89; 400m individual medley: 1 Siow Yi Ting (NS) 4:53.10; 2 Erika Kong (Sar) 5:01.92, 3 Nadia Adrianna Redza (Sel) 5:06.15; 4x100m medley: 1 Selangor 4:29.32, 2 Kuala Lumpur 4:33.58, 3 Sabah 5:00.25. * MT -- meet record