PETALING JAYA: Teenagers Welson Sim and Phee Jinq En cranked out new national records to cap off their seasons on a high at the FINA Swimming World Cup leg in the United Arab Emirates.
Welson clocked an impressive 1:48.11 for fifth place in the men’s 200m freestyle final in Dubai on Saturday. He agonisingly missed out on the Rio de Janeiro Olympic A qualifying time of 1:47.97 by 0.14 seconds.
|National swimmers Phee Jinq En and Welson Sim pose for a photo after finishing their events at the FINA World Cup leg in Dubai on Saturday.|
But Welson managed to improve on his own national record of 1:48.26 set at the World Cup leg in Doha, Qatar, last week.
Sarawak-born Welson reached the top-eight final as the second-best swimmer after clocking 1:48.89 behind Olympic champion Yannick Agnel. The Frenchman clocked 1:48.85.
Britain’s James Guy, the world champion, took the gold in 1:46.60 ahead of Serbian Velimir Stjepanovic (1:46.63) and Brazil’s Jeremy Stravius (1:46.63). Agnel finished fourth in 1:47.28.
The 18-year-old Welson is on the reserve list for next year’s Rio Olympics, having earlier beaten the qualifying time of 1:51.75 but it is the A time he is eyeing for.
No Malaysian has qualified for the Olympics under the A time since Alex Lim Keng Liat in the men’s 100m backstroke at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Welson, the 400m freestyle SEA Games gold medallist in Singapore in June, is optimistic he can achieve his Olympic dream before the qualifying campaign ends on July 3.
“It’s my goal to compete in my first Olympics. I want to continue to improve bit by bit through exposure in high level meets like the World Cups,” he said.
Jinq En also had a good end to the season, becoming the first Malaysian to dip under 32 seconds in the women’s 50m breaststroke.
The 17-year-old posted 31.80 for sixth place in the final, improving on her national record of 32.01 registered at the World Cup leg in Singapore last month.
It was Jinq En’s second national record in Dubai as she clocked 1:09.64 to smash Siow Yi Ting's six-year-old mark of 1:09.82 in the 100m breaststroke on Friday.
Jamaican Alia Atkinson, the bronze medallist at the World Championships in July, claimed the gold in 30.26. American Molly Hannis clocked 30.54 for the silver while Australian Jane Pickett Leiston clinched the bronze in 30.79.
Two other Malaysians – Keith Lim and Ian James Barr – also competed in Dubai.
Keith finished 26th in the men’s 50m freestyle after clocking 23.88 while Ian was placed 13th in the men’s 200m individual medley with a time of 2:08.44.