BY LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: Young Malaysian swimmer Welson Sim set the pool alight with smashing performances as the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa.
The tireless Welson splashed his way to two silver medals – 200m and 1500m freestyle – on the opening day of swimming competition at the Tuana’imato Sports Facility yesterday.
Welson’s silver-medal time of 1:49.22 in the 200m saw him equal Daniel Bego’s national record set during the Laos SEA Games back in 2009.
Australian swimmer Clyde Lewis touched the wall ahead of the Malaysian for the gold medal in 1:48.88. England’s Kyle Chisholm took bronze in 1:51.21.
The 18-year-old Welson hardly had time to catch his breath before was back in the pool for the 1,500m freestyle final.
Welson, who won the 400m freestyle gold in the Singapore SEA Games in June, clocked 15:57.72 for his second silver of the night.
Tom Derbyshire of England splashed to the gold in 15:31.18 while Australia’s Tristan Ludlow (16:06.06) took bronze.
After an uninspiring debut at last month’s World Aquatics Championships in Kazan, where he failed to get anywhere near his personal best timings, the Sarawak-born swimmer was delighted to finish on the podium in the Commonwealth Youth Games, which cater to athletes aged between 14 and 18 years old.
“I felt good going into this competition. I’ll try my best to win a medal in the 400m freestyle later, which is my pet event,” said Welson.
National coach Paul Birmingham Thomas said that Welson’s time in the 200m freestyle would have been good for the bronze medal at the World Youth Championships in Singapore last month.
“We skipped the world junior meet to focus on the Commonwealth Youth Games. He did well to dip under the 1:50 barrier.
“Welson had about 30 minutes to rest between the 200m freesytle and the 1,500m freestyle races.
“He was not in a position to win ... we just wanted him to secure a medal.
“It’s tough to swim a 1,500m freestyle on the first day ... I could not have asked for more from him.”
Malaysia also got a bronze through weightlifter Ronny Jesos in the men’s 56kg competition. He lifted a total of 209kg to finish behind Pakistan’s Talha Talib (217kg) and India’s Jamjang Deru (237kg).