SWIMMER Foo Jian Beng is comfortable staying behind the limelight while his better known counterparts – Daniel Bego, Siow Yi Ting and Khoo Cai Lin – get the attention from the media.
But Jian Beng could be the one stealing the show in the SEA Games competition, which begins tomorrow at the National Sports Centre.
The Selangor swimmer is making his maiden appearance in the Games and he will compete in the 50m and 100m freestyle events.
The 19-year-old Jian Beng is not rated as a gold medal prospect as he has not competed at this level before.
Jian Beng won the 50m and 100m freestyle races at the Asian Schools championships last year but it was in the Sukma (Malaysia Games) in Terengganu last year that he stamped his mark in the national scene.
Jian Beng created a big splash by setting new national marks in the 50m and 100m freestyle en route to winning four gold medals and he was named the Best Sportsboy of the Games.
His mark of 50.94 not only saw him erasing Allen Ong’s national record of 51.31 set at the 2001 KL SEA Games but it was also better than the Olympic qualifying mark of 50.95.
However, it did not earn him a place at the 2008 Beijing Games because Sukma was not an Olympic qualifying meet.
While Jian Beng was a bit disappointed not to have competed in the Olympics, the SEA Games offer him a shot at national glory again and he is determined to make the most of it.
“I was supposed to compete in the last Games in Korat. But I did not go because of studies. I hope to come back with medals this time,” he said.
“I don’t know about the strength of the competition as this is my first SEA Games but no one knows about me either.
“It’s better for me this way as I feel I swim better without pressure.
“I’m just looking forward to the start of the competition and hope something good will come my way as it’s always an open race in the short freestyle races.”
Allen was the last Malaysian SEA Games gold medallist in the 100m freestyle – in 2003 in Hanoi. NST