BY TAN MING WAI
PETALING JAYA: National open water swimmer Heidi Gan will be making her second Olympic appearance at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
The 27-year-old secured her spot for the August Games after claiming a creditable 18th place finish in the 48-competitor Olympic Qualifying tournament at the Setubal Bay, Portugal on Saturday.
The Indonesia SEA Games double gold medallist finished the 10km race in an impressive time of 1'57:41.2 and it was enough for her punch her ticket as the top Asian finisher outside of the top 10.
China's Xin Xin pipped two-time world champion Keri-Anne Payne of Great Britain by 0.8 seconds for the top spot in 1'55:12.1.
Samantha Arevalo of Ecuador posted 1'55:15.9 to settle for third.
“I was so emotional after the race. Six weeks ago I was barely able to swim due to a shoulder injury,” said Heidi when contacted in Portugal.
“The race was brutal. The sea was rough and the competition was tough.
“I gave everything I had. I’m so proud I managed to qualify for the Olympics again,” said Heidi.
It was a remarkable achievement for Heidi as she’s not a full-time athlete.
Graduated with a law degree from the University of Western Australia in 2014, Heidi now works as a paralegal at a firm in Perth.
In her maiden Olympic appearance in London, Heidi finished a creditable 16th out of 25 swimmers.
A total of 25 swimmers will again compete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics from Aug 5-21.