By Lim Teik Huat
KUALA LUMPUR: A 14-member swimming squad will head to Naypyitaw for the Myanmar SEA Games without seasoned campaigner Siow Yi Ting and promising youngster Ian James Barr.
While multiple SEA Games gold medallist breaststroke swimmer Yi Ting has handed in her resignation letter to notify Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) of her intention to quit, Pahang Sukma gold medallist Ian is skipping the Games after undergoing surgery to correct a bone spur problem.
The 18-year-old Ian had to go for the operation to correct the career-threatening injury and will be out for at least six months.
Yi Ting captured two gold medals in the 100m and 200m breaststroke events at the Indonesia SEA Games last year and with the veteran’s absence, the Malaysian challenge will be shouldered by Christina Loh and newcomer Nadia Adrianna Redza.
Christina made a dream debut at the last SEA Games in Palembang when she took the 50m breaststroke gold but the event is not in the programme for Myanmar.
In Ian’s absence, Pahang Sukma double gold medallist Tern Jian Han will swim in the men’s 100m and 200m backststroke events for Malaysia.
It would have been the third SEA Games appearance for Ian in Myanmar but his mother Irene Low Barr said it was better to opt out to allow a full recovery.
“Ian went for an operation in September and he is now going for rehabilitation. It will be about six months before he can swim competitively.
“Initially, he had a slight muscle tear but the bigger problem was when it was found out that there was a bone growing on another bone.
“The shoulder pain has been there and in fact he was swimming in pain at the last SEA Games in Indonesia. The pain gets to him every time he trains harder and that is why his performance was not so good the past one year.
“It’s okay if he skips the SEA Games as there are more important Games for him to look forward to next year like the Commonwealth and Asian Games,” she said.
Ian holds the national record for the 200m individual medley and took bronze in the event at the last SEA Games in Indonesia.
Yi Ting’s absence’s also means Malaysia’s challenge for gold in the swimming pool will be weakened and the country will be banking on other seasoned campaigners like Kevin Yeap and Khoo Cai Lin to rise to the occasion.
Kevin and Cai Lin took golds in the 400m and 800m freestyle races respectively in Palembang but will face stiff challenge from their Singaporean rivals.
There is also gold medal expectations on Lim Ching Hwang in the men’s short and middle distance sprints (50m, 100m and 200m) while Daniel Bego’s return to form will be welcomed after the Sarawakian missed the last SEA Games to recover from shoulder injuries.
Daniel bagged five gold medals in the Laos Games in 2009.
Youngster Shaun Yap may also spring a surprise in the men’s 100m or 200m breaststroke event.
Of the 14 swimmers in the team, five will be making their first appearance in the Games.
The women swimmers are Asian Youth Games silver medallist Yap Siew Hui and Nadia while the males taking part are Shaun, Wong Fu Kang and Welson Sim.
SEA Games swimming team
Men: Yap See Tuan, Daniel Bego, Lim Ching Hwang, Kevin Yeap, Shaun Yap, Wong Fu Kang, Tern Jian Han, Vernon Lee, Welson Sim.
Women: Khoo Cai Lin, Christina Loh, Nadia Adrianna Redza, Yap Siew Hui, Erika Kong.