By LIM TEIK HUAT
|Stunning win : Lim Ching Hwang beat the 200m freestyle qualifying time for the world meet at the Singapore National Age Group competition in March with a new personal best of 1:50.42.|
PETALING JAYA: Youngster Lim Ching Hwang has opted to forgo the chance of making his World Championships debut in Barcelona in July in favour of going for gold at the Asian Youth Games (AYG) in Nanjing the following month.
But that doesn’t mean the Singapore-based swimmer will hold anything back when he swims in the Malaysian Open championships, which begin at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil today.
The Malaysian Open is one of the designated regional qualifying meet for the world championships and the question is whether there will be new additions to the list that currently includes Khoo Cai Lin, Daniel Bego, Kevin Yeap, Siow Yi Ting, Christina Loh, Lim Ching Hwang and Shaun Yap.
Ching Hwang beat the 200m freestyle qualifying time for the world meet at the Singapore national age-group competition in March with a new personal best of 1:50.42.
It was a stunningly fast time – and not far off Daniel’s national mark of 1:49.22, which the Sarawakian set at the Laos SEA Games in 2009 when he was wearing the then still-legal hi-tech swimsuit.
More interestingly, Ching Hwang’s 1:50.42 is faster than the previous Asian Youth Games gold medal winning time of 1:52.22 set in Singapore in 2009.
So is his 100m personal best time of 50.87 – it’s also faster than the previous Asian Youth Games silver medal mark of 51.28.
There is a possibility that the 16-year-old could make history by becoming the first Malaysian gold medallist in the Asian Youth Games, which is for athletes in 16-17 years age-group.
“It is very likely that I won’t go to Barcelona. The world meet can wait next time as it is held every two years. But not the AYG ... I won’t be eligible to compete next time. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I really think I have a chance to win,” said Ching Hwang, who is studying at the Singapore Sports School.
“There is also the World Youth Championships in Dubai (from Aug 26-31) ... I intend to do well there too.
“I was sick last week but I’ll try to get some fast times here.”
Ching Hwang, who will represent Selangor, will swim in the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle races.
The 200m freestyle will be an interesting race as it will pit the youngster against record holder Daniel, who is making a return to form after undergoing shoulder surgery last year.
Ching Hwang’s sacrifice paves the way for Daniel, who bagged five golds in the 2009 SEA Games, to swim the 200m freestyle at the world meet.
He also qualified for the event at the Singapore national age-group meet, albeit with a slower time compared to his younger team-mate.
The Malaysian Open spotlight will also be on another young swimmer – backstroke specialist Shaun Yap Kah Choon.
Shaun clocked a blistering 28.69 at the national age-group meet in Bukit Jalil last month to improve on his own 50m breaststroke national mark of 29.12, which he just set in February.
That gave him a ticket to make his maiden appearance in the world meet in Barcelona and the 17-year-old will surely be out to add the 100m distance to his list this week.
If there is anyone who is capable of erasing Elvin Chia’s national mark of 1:02.59 that has stood since 2000, it is probably Shaun.
Even national swimming coach Paul Birmingham feels the same.
“He (Shaun) is doing 1:03 for the 100m breaststroke ... I’m hoping to see him achieve something soon,” he said.
The preliminaries will start from 9am and the finals from 5pm daily until Sunday.