Swim sensations set SEA Games records

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 Aug 2017: 

Fans and swimmers had a splashing time as four SEA Games records drowned at the pool in the National Aquatic Centre as the SEA Games swimming competition kicked off in spectacular fashion last night.

As expected, Malaysian swimming sensation Welson Sim, Singapore’s Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling, Indonesia’s Gede Siman and Vietnam’s darling of the pool Nguyen Thi Anh Vien lived up to expectations – by splashing their way to four new SEA Games records.

Welson Sim, 20, splashed his way to the men’s 400m freestyle gold medal en route to setting a new Games Record with a time of 3:50.26s that bettered his own mark of 3:53.97s which was set during the 2015 Singapore SEA Games.

Though Welson Sim was satisfied with his performance and achievement today, he believed the time would have been even better if there was stiff competition in the last 100m or 200m.

“This was a fantastic swim. I went out faster than I normally do and maybe I was nervous at first but I managed to get the gold. This is already my best (time). As I said I was a bit nervous.

“Maybe I can go faster if I have someone to race with me in the last 100m or 200m, someone to phase with, it would have been better,” said Welson Sim who had upset 2016 Rio Olympics gold medallist Mack Horton from Australia at the Mare Nostrum Tour in Monaco to win the gold medal in the same event with a new national record of 3:49.48s in June.

Welson Sim will next compete in the men’s 4x100m freestyle before competing in the 200m Freestyle tomorrow.

In the men’s 50m backstroke, Indonesia’s Gede Siman Sudartawa clocked 25.20s to win the gold and smash the old Games record of 25.27s set by Singapore’s Quah Zheng Wen in 2015 while Thi Anh erased the women’s 100m backstroke with a time of 1:01.89s.

The old record of 1:02.11 was held by Tao Li from Singapore since the 2011 edition in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s wonder boy Schooling met the pre-race prediction by recording a new SEA Games record of 23.06s in the men’s 50m butterfly to clinch his country’s first gold medal in swimming and erasing the old mark of 23.49s.

“I am happy with the result. I could not have asked for a better start and hopefully I can get better throughout the meet. I feel good and happy to be back in Malaysia and have a huge team supporting me,” said the 22-year-old Rio Olympics gold medallist.

Schooling would also be competing in the men’s 4x100m freestyle today. Schooling was initially reported to be competing in the 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m medley in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia were in cracking form on Day 2 of competition in the 29th SEA Games – scooping eight gold with recurve archers claiming a double in the men’s and women’s team contest and Games rookie Yeap Wai Kin claiming a second gold in wushu to push up the home haul to 24 gold, 19 silver and 14 bronze at the top of the table.

Swimmer Welson Sim was among the local heroes with a powerful opening at the National Aquatic Centre, shaving three seconds off his own Games mark in defending the 400m freestyle in 3:50.26s for Malaysia’s solitary title as five records tumbled in six races.

Malaysia capped the day with the national football team storming into the semifinals with a convincing 3-1 win over Myanmar in Group A. The visitors who have not been beaten – until last night – have nine points from four matches while Malaysia, unbeaten in three, look set to top the group with a last match against Laos tomorrow.

The fighting spirit displayed by the homesters tasked with a 111-gold target sets the stage for today’s exciting scramble for a chunk of 45 gold as the athletics programme opens at the National Stadium with eight and six each in swimming and wushu.

Singapore are in second place overall with 13 gold, snatching three from swimming with Rio Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling breaking his own 50m butterfly record in 23.06s.

In a close fight behind are Vietnam with eight, Indonesia seven and 2015 overall champions Thailand six. The Philippines and Myanmar have three while Laos. Brunei. Cambodia and Timor-Leste have yet to gain gold.

In a drama-filled day – which saw a photo finish in the gruelling men’s cycling criterium road race defended by Malaysia’s Mohd Harrif Salleh – the start of squash competition was delayed to evening following an accident involving two team buses carrying athletes from Thailand, the Philippines and Myanmar.

Some of the players have received medical attention and Games organiser, MASOC said two Myanmar players have withdrawn from the first round matches when the competition was rescheduled to the evening.

After failing to nail a gold in the individual shoot on Sunday, national recurve archers were on target with the trio of Haziq Kamaruddin, Khairul Anuar Mohamad and Muhammad Akmal Nor Hasrin outclassing Thailand 5-1 to defend the men’s title gold.

The women’s team title was won by Nur Afisa Abdul Halil, Nur Aliya Ghapar and Nuramalia Haneesa Mazlan with a similar margin over Indonesia.

The three other gold were from the bowling men’s doubles, men’s double trap shooting and the women’s artistic gymnastics team.

In a dramatic sprint to the finish, Mohd Harrif Salleh with support of his elder brother Mohd Zamri, defended the men’s criterium event by half a wheel with the brothers taking gold and bronze in the tactical road race in a photo finish with Thai rider Thanawut Sanikwathi all on a time of 59:35s.

Malaysia celebrated a 1-2 finish in men’s doubles bowling with Alex Liew and Muhamad Syafiq Ridhwan Abdul Malek knocking down 2,647 pins to grab the gold to outshine silver-placed teammates Muhammad Rafiq Ismail and Adrian Ang who struck the singles gold and silver on Sunday.

But the national women’s team yet again did not deliver and lost in the defence of the doubles gold and were out of the top three. Shalin Zulkili and Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman were fourth while in a disappointing sixth were Esther Cheah and Sin Li Jane who won the gold in Singapore

In wushu, debutant Yeap Wai Kin continued a golden run nabbing his second gold despite an injured right shoulder. Yet again, he outpointed teammate Wong Weng Son in men’s qiangshu (spear) after his winning start in jianshu (sword). Malaysia picked up a bronze in the women’s qiangshu through Phoon Eyin.

At the National Shooting Range in Subang, Benjamin Khor blasted open the shooting competition with a gold for Malaysia in the men’s double trap scoring 71 with the silver going to compatriot Abraham Eng with 66 and Thailand’s Temmart Sirawait settling for the bronze with 44. The event was last held in 2007.

– Bernama

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