BY LIM TEIK HUAT
SHAH ALAM: Selangor retained their overall champions’ title but it was Sarawak golden boy Hii Wei Puong who stole the show on the penultimate day of the MSSM (national schools) swimming championships at the Shah Alam Aquatic Centre.
The 12-year-old capped a new high for Sarawak after extending his gold medal collection to a massive 11 in the boys’ 12 and below category on Wednesday.
Wei Puong splashed his way to two more gold medals – leading from start to finish to capture the 50m freestyle in 28.45 before guiding Sarawak to the 200m medley relay title.
The Kuching-born swimmer began the day with nine gold medals (100m and 200m freestyle, 50m and 100m butterfly, 50m and 100m backstroke, 50m and 100m breaststroke and 200m individual medley).
Wei Puong, who astonishingly failed to win a single gold medal last year, can achieve the rare distinction of sweeping all 12 gold medals at stake if Sarawak win the 200m freestyle relay race on Thursday.
Wei Puong comes from a family of swimmers. His father Hii Tuang Sing is a former national swimmer while other siblings – Hung Puong, Hou Puong, Toh Puong and Jie Puong – are active swimmers for the state.
“I’m happy he swept all 10 individual gold medals in 12 and below category,” said his father Tuang Sing.
“Wei Puong has been training under two coaches – China-born Li Guo Bing and Gary Lau – for the past 12 months.
“A swimmer must master all four strokes and Wei Puong has shown he is equally adept in freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly.
“I’m happy with his progress. Although he won so many golds here, he did not break any records. It will be tougher for him when he competes in the Under-15 category next year.
“I want him – and my other sons – to represent Malaysia in international meets. Wei Puong has something special in him but he must work hard to develop his talent further.”
With one day remaining, Selangor hold an unassailable lead in the overall standings with 34 golds, 21 silvers and 15 bronzes. Sarawak (20-10-11) and Malacca (7-9-10) are left trailing in their wake.
The overall title is already in Selangor’s hands as there are only 12 events left.
Last year, Selangor amassed 32 golds, 19 silvers and 18 bronzes.