PETALING JAYA: Things are looking pretty bleak for swimmer Khoo Cai Lin.
Judging by her recent performances, the 26-year-old can forget about extending her gold medal-winning streak at the SEA Games for a fifth straight time.
|National woman swimmer Khoo Cai Lin in action during the 400m freestyle race at the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games. - Filepic|
Cai Lin produced one of her worst performances in recent years when she could only clock a disastrous 4:28.65 and 9:14.62 in the 400m and 800m freestyles respectively in the New South Wales State Open Championships, which ended on Sunday.
She failed to qualify for the finals in both events in the highly competitive three-day meet at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.
The two-time Olympian holds the 400m (4:10.75) and 800m (8:45.36) freestyle national records – both set in the 2009 Laos Games with the assistance of the now-banned hi-tech swimsuit.
Cai Lin, who is set to make her seventh SEA Games appearance in Singapore in June, has never failed to return with at least a gold medal from her last four outings, bagging five gold medals in the process – including a memorable double at the Korat Games in 2007.
At 26, Cai Lin faces an uphill battle to swim as fast as – if not faster than – she used to.
The last time she clocked below 8:50 in the 800m freestyle was at the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games. She was down with fever the day before the event but showed true grit to clock 8:49.51 for the gold medal.
Sadly, she has never dipped below the 8:50 mark in any official meet since.
But she’s determined to prove her critics wrong.
“I posted a poor time in the 800m free (on day one of the New South Wales competition on Friday) because it was held 10 minutes after I had raced in the 400m individual medley,” explained Cai Lin on Monday.
“But yes, I should have done better in the 400m free.
“I hope to do well in my seventh SEA Games ... and try to defend my 800m title in Singapore.
“I’m not going to throw in the towel ... just yet. I still feel there’s so much I can achieve, especially with the Rio de Janeiro Olympics looming in 2016.
“I also believe I can break my own six-year-old national records in the 400m and 800m freestyle.”
Several other senior members of the national swimming team – like Daniel Bego and Kevin Yeap – also failed to make their mark in their first competitive outing of the year.
Malaysia sent 26 swimmers to the prestigious meet in New South Wales. The meet also featured some of Australia’s top swimmers, including world champion James Magnussen and Glasgow Commonwealth Games triple gold medallist Emma McKeon.
Read from Star Online.