Thursday, 21 January 2016

The Star : Olympic dream still burns bright for swimmer Lai Kwan


PETALING JAYA: The lure of the Olympics is what’s keeping 25-year-old swimmer Chui Lai Kwan from calling it a day.

National swimmer Chui Lai Kwan

That, and next year’s Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, are the reasons the short-distance specialist intends to plod on.

“I haven’t reached my peak yet. I still have a few good years left in me. I can still perform at the highest level,” said Lai Kwan, who trains with the Selangor state side after leaving the national set-up in 2011.

“Why would I quit? I still want to swim at next year’s SEA Games.”

At the Singapore SEA Games last June, Lai Kwan rewrote her own national record in the 50m freestyle after missing out narrowly on the podium to finish fourth.

She clocked 25.82 to improve on the previous mark of 26.00 set at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The B qualifying time for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics is 26.17.

Lai Kwan, a finalist at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games and Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010, also holds the other two national records – 100m freestyle (57.59) and 100m backstroke (1:03.91).

Lai Kwan, who now focuses only on the 50m freestyle, is determined to lower her personal best in the event and boost her chances of a maiden Olympic appearance.

“The Olympic dream is one of the few factors that keep me going. I have competed in all the major meets, except the Olympic Games,” said Lai Kwan, the 2007 Korat SEA Games gold medallist.

“I’ve been training hard under coach Marellyn Liew to secure my qualification to Brazil. The A qualifying mark is 25.28. To dip under the A time seems unrealistic.

“But it’s very possible for me to qualify under the B category. But I must further improve my personal best to stand a chance of making the cut.”

Lai Kwan will have a chance to do just that at the National Age-Group Championships from March 31-April 1 and Malaysian Open from May 5-8.

The Olympic qualifying period ends on July 3.

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