SINGAPORE: A bronze from youngster Welson Sim was all Malaysia could manage on the first day of the swimming competition at OCBC Aquatics Centre.
Khoo Cai Lin dealt an early blow to Malaysia’s hopes of a gold-medal start when she pulled out from the women's 800m freestyle final.
Cai Lin cited tonsillitis as the reason for not defending the 800m freestyle title she won in Myanmar two years ago.
She swam the 400m individual medley heat in the morning, but did not finish the race.
“I’ve been having tonsillitis even before arriving here and I’ve not recovered from it. I used the 400m individual medley as a test to see how I was feeling, but I could not breathe halfway through the race ... too bad this happened now," said Cai Lin, who is unable to take antibiotics as she has to race the 400m freestyle on Wednesday.
The 25-year-old Selangor swimmer, however, faces an uphill task of regaining the 400m gold medal she last won in Laos in 2009 as Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Anh Vien was in sublime form on Saturday.
The Vietnamese teenager splashed to two SEA Games records on her way to winning the 400m individual medley and 800m freestyle races.
But it was good to see Welson putting up a noteworthy performance in snatching bronze.
The 18-year-old from Sarawak clocked 1:50.73 in the men’s 200m freestyle to finish behind Singapore’s Quah Zheng Wen, who took silver in 1:49.17.
|Welson Sim of Malaysia (right) with the 200m freestyle bronze medal at the Singapore SEA Games on Saturday. Quah Zheng Wen of Singapore (left) won silver and Vietnam's Hoang Quy Phuoc, the gold. - BERNAMA|
Vietnam’s Hoang Quy Phuoc smashed Malaysian Daniel Bego’s SEA Games record of 1:49.22, set in 2009, on his way to retaining the 200m freestyle gold in 1:48.96.
“I’m happy with my effort as this is my first time qualifying for the 200m freestyle final at the SEA Games,” said Welson, the MSSM Sportsboy for 2014.
“I’m also the youngest finalist tonight. I will not think too much about this as I have more events to come.”