KUCHING, April 22 — Swimmer Welson Sim, 19, is expected to make waves at the Rio Olympics in August now that he will have the most important person by his side — mum, Lee Ngiat Kim, 50.

“I hope to make it into the semifinals and break the national record,” he told a press conference, thrilled his mother would be accompanying him to Rio for the duration of the competition.

Welson and his mother yesterday received a sponsorship of RM20,000 from One Stop Furnishing Sdn Bhd and Ideas Factory Sdn Bhd following Malay Mail's story 12 days ago about how Ngiat Kim didn't have enough funds to travel to Rio.

The proud mother thanked the sponsors for their generosity, adding she would be able to bring her daughter (Sim Shy Wei) along to keep her company when Welson is in the athletes' village.

“I feel very grateful I am now able to go to Rio. It is beyond what my family can afford,” said Ngiat Kim.

Welson's father (Sim Ah Tee) runs a business bringing fishermen out to sea and he explained he owed his success to his mother.

“When I had training sessions at 5.30am, mum would send me to the pool and she will wait for me to finish — two hours later. She is my everything.”

He said his main concern now was how to get entrance tickets to his events.

“The tickets are sold out. I hope OCM (Olympic Council of Malaysia) can help. I also hope they can put my mum and sister on my flight so we can all be together.”

Welson  qualified for two category A events — the first Malaysian to do so — en route to setting national records and winning gold medals in 200m and 400m freestyle at last month’s National Age Group Championships in Singapore. He also made the “B” cut in 100m freestyle.

Welson bettered veteran Daniel Bego’s 200m record (1:49.22s) by clocking 1:47.67s while Kevin Yeap’s three-year mark of 3:53.26s in 400m was erased with his efforts of 3:50.33s.

Ideas Factory managing director Datuk Adriana Law, who was a national javelin thrower, said she was moved by Welson's story in the Malay Mail which revealed he was often called “ikan bilis” (anchovy) by older swimmers and he had to be hospitalised several times because of asthma.

“As an athlete, I understand how important it is to have your parents' support,” said Adriana, who is from Sibu.

“When I saw that article, I was touched. As a Sarawakian I also felt very proud and knew I needed to do something. So I reached out to Mark Mah (One Stop Furnishing managing director) and he also said he saw the report and agreed to join me in helping Welson.”

Mark said the Revor brand of mattresses sold by his company was known for its support for athletes in Belgium, and he saw it fitting to assist Welson.

Asked who his idol was in swimming, Welson said it was Michael Phelps who he expects to meet in Rio.

“We are not competing in the same events but I will meet him and I will take a picture with him,” said Welson.