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SEA Games star Welson aiming for a podium finish in Jakarta Asiad

PETALING JAYA: KL SEA Games double gold medallist Welson Sim will attempt to become the first Malaysian swimmer in 16 years to stand on the Asian Games podium next year.
The 20-year-old has met the Asian Games third place qualifying mark of 3:50.38 from Incheon four years ago after clocking a new Games record of 3:50.26 in the 400m freestyle event.
Welson also set a new SEA Games record of 1:47.76 to dethrone defending champion Hoang Quy Phuoc of Vietnam in the 200m freestyle which is also inside the bronze medal time of 1:49.25 from the last Asian Games.
As the only swimmer under the Podium Programme, Welson has delivered and it is now time to move on to higher goals.
And Welson aims to become the first Malaysian after backstroker Alex Lim Keng Liat to win a swimming medal at the Asian or Commonwealth Games.
Keng Liat settled for silver after failing to retain his 100m backstroke title in Pusan, South Korea in 2002 and that was the last time Malaysia produced an Asian Games medallist in the pool.
“My targets are the Commonwealth and Asian Games next year.
“It will be the second time I’m competing in these Games.
“For the Commonwealth Games, I will continue to work on the 400m and 1,500m freestyle. I have no choice as I will lose the ‘feeling’ when I come back after my break, so I need to train and build up my endurance.
“The Asian Games comes later in the year, so I will switch to the 200m and 400m freestyle,” said Sarawak-born Welson.
A swimming medal at the Asiad will be a big achievement considering Welson will be swimming against world and Olympic champions.
He will be up against China’s Sun Yang, Japan’s Kosuke Hagino and South Korea’s Park Tae-hwan.
Sun Yan is the reigning world champion for the 200m and 400m freestyle events.
Sun Yang also won the Olympic title for the 200m freestyle but suffered his only defeat at the last Asian Games to Hagino in the event.
“I think I can go faster for the 400m freestyle. I need to clock personal bests to have a chance of winning a medal,” added Welson.
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