BY RAJES PAUL
KUALA LUMPUR: Two-time Olympic swimmer Khoo Cai Lin believes that the new year will bring good tidings.
The seasoned campaigner, who will turn 27 on Christmas day, feels that she’s ready to clock faster times and book her third Olympic Games ticket.
Cai Lin swam in the 800m freestyle event at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics, but her participation in the Rio de Janeiro Games in Brazil next August is still in the balance.
The five-time SEA Games champion admitted that this had been a rough year for her.
“It has been a little rough for me. I did really well at the Malaysian Open (won the 800m freestyle). I wanted to do better at the SEA Games, but was diagnosed with tonsillitis just two weeks before the Games in Singapore (in June),” said Cai Lin.
“I stopped halfway through my 400m individual medley race ... I also pulled out of the 800m freestyle, which was a first for me since my debut in 2003,
“I only managed one silver medal (400m freestyle) in my seventh SEA Games.”
Cai Lin had never failed to win gold medals in the last four editions of the SEA Games – 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013.
At the World Championships in Kazan in August, Cai Lin clocked 4:18.75 to finish 31st out of 49 competitors in the women’s 400m freestyle heats.
Having seen youngsters like Welson Sim (men’s 400m freestyle), Wong Fu Kang (100m breaststroke) and Phee Jinq En (women’s 100m breaststroke) stepping up to the plate this year, Cai Lin believes she still has the fire in her belly to make an impact.
“My passion and love for the sport keeps me going. Swimming keeps me calm ... everything else just ‘drowns out’ when I’m in the water,” she said.
“I still believe that I have a chance to qualify for the Games. I managed to make the cut under the B category for the Rio Games during the SEA Games in the 400m freestyle. But those in this category will only know in July if we will be competing or not.
“I will start competing again next year to lower my times and hopefully get a place in the Olympics.”
Asked if the Rio Games will be her last, Cai Lin, who is pursuing a double degree in public relations and marketing at Taylor’s University, said: “I will see how it goes.”