Sunday, 3 April 2016

The Star : Welson skips home Sukma, focus on training for Rio Olympics


SHAH ALAM: Sorry, Sarawak. Swimmer Welson Sim is letting go of the chance to compete in the Malaysia Games (Sukma) at his home state from July 22-31 as he wants to be focused on making a sensational debut at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The 18-year-old will compete in three back-to-back meets – in Cannes (France), Monte Carlo (Monaco) and Barcelona (Spain) – in June before heading to Florida, the United States with coach Paul Birmingham for training right until the Olympics in August.

“Florida will be my training base for the Olympics as it’s the same time zone and with a similar climate.

“Most of the swimmers preparing for the Olympics are doing the same thing as it’s easier to adjust to the conditions in Rio.

“I have qualified on merit for the Olympics and I will use the races in Europe to keep myself in good shape,” said Welson, who is targeting to reach the top 16 (semi-finals) in Rio.

Alex Lim Keng Liat is the only Malaysian swimmer to have made the top-16 at the Olympics – in the men’s 100m backstroke in Athens in 2004 – and Welson has high hopes to follow in the Sabahan’s footsteps after reaching the A qualifying times for the men’s 200m and the 400m freestyle at the Singapore national age-group meet last month.

As for the Sukma, Welson’s status as the Singapore SEA Games gold medallist in the men’s 400m freestyle restricts him to only two individual events.

Welson would be a shoo-in to deliver the men’s 200m and 400m freestyle gold medals for Sarawak, but he is passing up the chance.

“I’m sure my state wants me to swim as they’re hosting the Sukma, but they also understand that I have to focus on the Olympics,” said Welson, who missed out on a third gold after Sarawak were disqualified in the 4x100m medley relay boys’ Open category at the National Age-Group Championships at Shah Alam Aquatic Centre on Saturday.

Welson will be looking to add to his gold medal tally when he races in the 200m and 1500m freestyle events on Sunday.

He had claimed victory in the 100m and 400m freestyle events earlier.

Welson will compete in three back-to-back meets – in Cannes (France), Monte Carlo (Monaco) and Barcelona (Spain) in June. - KAMARUL ARIFFIN / The Star

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