DANIEL Bego finally achieved a perfect 10 of gold medals while Khoo Cai Lin overcame stomach ailment for an early birthday gift by winning the women's 800m freestyle at the Wunna Theikdi Swimming Arena in Naypyitaw yesterday.
Bego led from start to finish in the men's 400m freestyle as the Sarawakian came close to breaking his four-year-old Sea Games record of 3:53.99 seconds by finishing in 3:54.89s but compatriot Kevin Yeap could not muster a strong finish, clocking 4:00.75s for fifth.
Vietnam's Hoang Quy Phuoc finished second in 3:57.22s followed by Thailand's Tanakrit Kittiya (3:59.00s).
Bego described his win as a tremendous effort after recovering from shoulder surgeries, which kept him out of the Indonesia edition two years ago.
"I have won 10 gold... I wasn't counting but it is good to be back on the top of the podium after four years. Words can't describe how I feel now. The win is so special to me," said the delighted Bego yesterday.
"I knew I could control the race if I started it aggressively and did just that for the win. It would have been perfect if I had swum faster and finished closer to my long-standing record."
He achieved his Sea Games breakthrough in the 2005 Manila edition with wins in the 200m freestyle and 100 butterfly events. He repeated his feat two years later in Korat.
Bego starred in the 2009 Laos edition with five gold and four Sea Games records.
Bego, though, happy with his win, did not celebrate when he tapped the wall first for the finish following Kevin's failure to make the podium.
"Kevin has been consistent throughout the season and it would have been great if he had won a medal. I did not celebrate as he did not do well," said Bego.
The 24-year-old had to lay off swimming for more than a year after undergoing surgery to his shoulders in 2011. He missed the 2011 Sea Games and also failed to qualify for last year's London Olympics.
He had to go for a third surgery to correct a long-standing bone spur problem in his right shoulder. Bego had then felt he wouldn't return to the pool as recovery was slow.
But the determined swimmer made a successful outing in the Malaysian Open in May by winning the 200m freestyle and also made the final of the recent World Cup short course event in September.
It was a sweet win for Bego as his mother was watching from the stands.
"My mother has been supportive throughout my career. She prepares me medicinal soup before every final," Bego added.
Cai Lin, who was down with fever on Friday, won the women's 800m freestyle in 8:41.51s for her fifth overall Sea Games title since the 2007 edition.
Thailand's Benjaporn Sriphanomthorn finished second in 8:49.61s followed by Vietnam's Nyugen Thi Anh Vien 8:52.77s.
It was a perfect birthday gift for Cai Lin who turns 25 on Dec 25.
"I didn't feel well yesterday (Friday) and finished only fifth in the 400m freestyle. I feel much better today though I still have stomach issues.
"It was a good race and I managed to lead from the third lap onwards but the Thai kept close. However, I managed to hold my nerves and claim the win," said Cai Lin, who does not have plans to retire.
|Daniel Bego in action in the 400m freestyle yesterday.|
Read more: SWIMMING: Perfect haul for Bego - Other - New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/sports/other/swimming-perfect-haul-for-bego-1.433063#ixzz2nam0hCAF