NEW CLARK CITY, Dec 4 — National elite swimmer, Welson Sim Wee Sheng failed in his bid to secure his third straight gold in his pet event, men’s 400-meter freestyle after finishing in second place at the 2019 SEA Games in Philippines, today.
The 22-year-old Sarawakian who clinched back-to-back gold in the 2015 edition in Singapore and at the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, clocked 3 minutes 49.55 seconds in the event held at the New Clark City Aquatics Center.
It was a far cry from his personal best of 3:49.29 seconds set at the 2019 New South Wales State Open Championship in Australia on March 15.
The 2018 Olympic Youth Games winner, Nguyen Huy Hoang of Vietnam, clocked the new SEA Games record of 3:49.08 seconds, en route to clinch the gold medal, while Aflah Fadlan Prawira of Indonesia, settled for third (3:52.65 seconds).
Another national swimmer, Khiew Hoe Yean, came in sixth place out of eight swimmers after clocking 3:56.21 seconds.
Sim’s defeat saw Malaysia’s reign in the event ended since Kevin Yeap won the gold at the 2009 edition in Laos, followed by Daniel Bego in 2011 in Indonesia and 2013 in Myanmar.
For the record, Sim held the record in the event with a time of 3:50.26 seconds at the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
The defeat did not deter Sim’s spirits as he, then, anchored the national team, comprising Hoe Yean, Keith Lim and Arvin Singh Chahal to clinch the bronze medal in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay with a time of 7 minutes 27.55 seconds.
Singapore led by their Olympic champion, Joseph Schooling, retained the gold they won in 2017 by setting a new SEA Games record of 7:17.88 seconds, eclipsing their previous record of 7:18.14 seconds on their own turf in 2015. Vietnam settled for silver (7:21.51s).
Another national swimmer, Daniel Lim failed to make the mark on his debut after finishing in the last place out of eight swimmers in the men’s 100m breaststroke by posting a time of 1 minute 02.86 seconds.
The 2017 silver medallist, James Deiparine of the Philippines, took the gold with a new SEA Games record of 1:01.46 seconds, shattering the previous record of 1:01.60 by Vietnamese swimmer, Nguyen Huu Viet at the 2009 edition in Laos.
Speaking after his race, Welson expressed his disappointment after failing to retain the gold medal in his pet event, but still happy after winning the bronze medal in the 4x200m freestyle relay.
“I have a few more events after this and hopefully I can do my best,” he said.
Meanwhile, regional kingpins, Singapore which heavily depend on their United States-based swimmers, ruled the pool by amassing four golds, one silver and one bronze in the opening day of the swimming competition. — Bernama