BY LIM TEIK HUAT
SHAH ALAM: Swimmers who have qualified for the Olympics will have to forget about competing in the Sukma (Malaysia Games) in Kuching.
National coach Paul Birmingham Thomas is putting his foot down on their participation.
Sarawak will host Sukma from July 22-31 while the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is from Aug 5-21.
“The states have got to put the country’s interest first before anything else. It’s wrong if we allow the Olympic-bound swimmers to swim in the Sukma.
“The two competitions are held too closely to each other. The swimmers need to acclimatise to the 12-hour time zone, so it's crazy if you expect them to swim well in the Olympics. We should know the swimmers confirmed for the Olympics before the Sukma. They will be barred from competing in Kuching,” said Thomas.
“Our plan is to bring those going to the Olympics to the training camp in Florida (the United States) sometime in July. We will set base there and go straight to Rio to cut down on the travel time,” he added.
As the hosts, Sarawak are keen to have the services of Welson Sim despite the fact that he is restricted to compete in two individual and three relay events due to his status as a SEA Games gold medallist.
Welson has already qualified for the Olympics under the A time for the men’s 200m and 400m freestyle after clocking 1:47.67 and 3:50.33 at the Singapore national age-group championships last month.
Malaysia also have swimmers who made the B cut but they will only know their fate on July 11.
The swimmers who made the B cut are Kevin Yeap (400m freestyle), Yeap Zheng Yang (200m freestyle), Daniel Bego (400m freestyle) and Wong Fu Kang (100m breaststroke) for men; Chui Lai Kwan (50m freestyle), Khoo Cai Lin (400m freestyle) and Phee Jinq En (100m breaststroke) for women.
In another development, Thomas expressed his disappointment that no local swimmers managed to set meet records at the National Age-Group Championships which ended at the Shah Alam Aquatic Centre on Sunday.
“A lot needs to be done where the states are concerned. It should be about highlighting the swimmers but
I did not see any solid swim. We can do with a bit more depth, otherwise we are always going to rely on the few talented kids we have,” said Thomas.