BY LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: It’s been six long years, but Malaysia can finally rejoice having a record-breaking swimmer in the Asian Age-Group Aquatics Championships.
Bukit Jalil-based Yeap Zheng Yang clocked 1:51.22 to win the boys’ 200m freestyle event in the 15-17 age group for Malaysia’s only gold as the meet ended in Bangkok on Wednesday.
The previous meet record of 1:52.22 was set by 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games bronze medallist Derick Ng of Hong Kong in 2013.
Jordan’s Khader Ghetrich and Uzbekistan’s Aleksey Tarasenko also dipped under the previous meet record in taking silver (1:51.64) and bronze (1:51.74).
The 17-year-old Zheng Yang is the first Malaysian to set a meet record at the Asian age-group since Daniel Bego in the 100m butterfly six years ago.
Zheng Yang also took a bronze in the 400m freestyle in 3:59.56. Japan’s Atsuya Yoshida (3:58.19) took gold and Ghetrich (3:58.64) the silver.
Zheng Yang’s performances in Bangkok have placed him as the country’s third ranked middle and long distance male swimmer behind Kevin Yeap and Singapore SEA Games gold medallist Welson Sim.
In the boys’ 18-year old and above category, Keith Lim clocked 51.75 to contribute a silver for Malaysia.
Ian James Barr, making a comeback after a long lay-off to recover from a shoulder injury, clocked 2:07.71 in the 200m individual medley for a bronze in the same age category.
Malaysian divers also made a good impression in their first international outing, reeling in five silvers and a bronze.
Sarawak’s Kimberly Bong was the most outstanding diver, with two silvers in the girls’ Group C 3m springboard and 10m platform.
The remaining silver medals came from Gabriel Gilbert Daim (boys’ Group B 1m springboard), Megan Elizabeth Teoh (girls’ Group B 3m springboard) and Hanis Nazirul Surya (boys’ Group B 3m springboard).
Jelson Jabilin contributed the bronze in the boys’ Group B 3m springboard.
Diving back-up coach Yeoh Ken Nee took a small development team of six to Bangkok and was happy they managed to give a good account of themselves despite their lack of exposure.
“All our five silver medals in diving were won behind Japan. The Japanese team dominated most of the events as they’re way stronger than our development team,” said the former national diver.
“But I believe our youngsters have a better understanding of what they need to improve on if they are to dominate in Asia.”