DANIEL Bego finished as the best male swimmer of the 25th Sea Games and likely the best athlete after his double feat to close the swimming event and bring his personal tally to five gold medals in Vientiane yesterday.
The 20-year-old Sarawakian just missed out on what would have been a perfect sweep of five Sea Games records as well, the 200m butterfly being the odd one out.
He had earlier bagged the 200m freestyle in one minute 49.22s to better both the Sea Games and national records.
Added to his bronze medal from the 4x200m freestyle, this was the best ever performance by a Malaysian male swimmer at the Sea Games and Daniel put himself on pole position to grab the Male Athlete of the Games award.
With nine gold, five silver and six bronze medals in total, this was also the swimming squad's best ever performance in a Sea Games outside Kuala Lumpur.
The previous best was nine gold, three silver and three bronze medals achieved at the 1987 Games in Jakarta.
In both events last night, Daniel had to come from behind. The 200m freestyle saw him trailing Filipino Miguel Molina by a clear second until inside the final 50 metres when he powered ahead to victory.
The 200m butterfly was brought to an even more explosive finish, as Daniel was trailing in fourth place until just before the final 50 metres when he seemed to find several extra gears to overcome the trio of Indonesia's Donny Utomo, Thai Nguyen Vo of Vietnam and Filipino James Walsh for the gold medal in his only non-record gold medal win.
A tired Daniel clocked 2:00.61s to just miss out on Walsh's Games record of 2:00.45s.
"I swim my best when I swim my own race and that was what I did. I didn't think about being behind but just swam as fast as I could," said Daniel, who amazingly nursed a shoulder injury all through the meet.
Also yesterday, Khoo Cai Lin gave Singapore's Olympic finalist Tao Li a scare before settling for the women's 200m butterfly silver medal, while Chui Lai Kwan lost her 50m freestyle crown, settling for bronze behind the Singaporean duo of Lim Xiang Qi and Quah Ting Wen.
An ill Siow Yi Ting barely got through the women's 400m individual medley, finishing sixth, but with three gold medals under her belt, this was already her best ever Sea Games.