Wednesday, November 23, 2011

SEA GAMES REVIEW: Big splash in the water

CLASS ABOVE: But Asum needs to do more

The synchronised swimmers were unstoppable as they dazzled the fans with their near perfect performances.

THE divers and synchronised swimmers were in their element while Heidi Gan made a sweep of  the women's open water events but the national swimming squad failed to make progress in Palembang.

  Malaysia's divers were a class above  as Yeoh Ken Nee celebrated his 15th title in  his last Sea Games  as they won seven out of the eight gold medals on offer.

   It could have been eight but coach Yang Zhuliang withdrew his pair from the men's 10m platform synchro event for other nations to fight for one gold.

   In synchronised swimming, Katrina Ann Abdul Hadi and Shareen Png emerged as the two most successful Malaysian athletes in the  Games as they led their teammates to all five events titles.

The swimmers were unstoppable as they dazzled the fans and impressed the judges with their near perfect performance, which denied Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, the limelight.

   It was initially  feared the event would be tainted by bias judging but the officials were fair and thus the best team won on merit.

Heidi,  who represented Malaysia in three previous Sea Games with one gold medal to her credit in the 4x100m medley in Laos, only took up open water swimming 18 months ago but it did not stop her from winning the 5km and 10km races.

   The Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) was not expecting a big splash in the absence of Daniel Bego, the five-gold medal hero in Laos, from the pool.

   Asum  targeted four gold but the swimmers exceeded it through the efforts of  Siow Yi Ting, Christina Loh,  Kevin Yeap,  and Khoo Cai Lin.

   The over-dependence on Daniel denied Malaysia a repeat of their nine-gold haul   in Laos and this  shows the national team lack  depth and quality.

   The association had two years after the success in Laos to develop its swimmers but those who were exposed,  either failed to clock faster times or quit the sport.

   Except for Christina  and Kevin,  the other youngsters have so far failed to make an impact.

   Credit to Asum for its  effort in diving and synchronised swimming but it  needs to do more for swimming.

   Christina  made a breakthrough by winning the region's 50m breaststroke gold medal while Kevin made amends by pacing himself well to lift the men's 400 freestyle event.

   Yi Ting returned from a two-year break to successfully defend her 100m and 200m breaststroke titles  as Malaysia swept all three gold medals at stake for the first time.

As for Cai Lin, she led from start to finish to earn a well deserved win in the women's 800m freestyle.

   Chan Kah Yan was the only Malaysian  swimmer to break a national record and did  so in the women's 50m backstroke en route to earning silver. A far cry from Laos, where Malaysia broke eight Sea Games records.

   But to be fair, the national swimmers were not at their best  as some were down with food poisoning upon arrival  in Palembang.

   Christina  won the 50m breaststroke on the day she suffered from diarrhoea while Foo Jian Beng and Ian James Barr  also suffered  the same problem.

   Asum,  however, needs to invest more like its  Singapore counterparts in the sport to ensure quality in the  national team.

Read more: NST

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