Sunday June 17, 2012
Swimmer 0.06s short of Olympic selection time in 400m freestyle win
By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: Kevin Yeap came within a whisker of beating a second Olympic qualifying mark en route to becoming the first Malaysian male swimming gold medallist in the South East Asia (SEASA) Swimming Championships at the Singapore Sports School.
Kevin splashed to victory in 3:54.19 in the 400m freestyle final ahead of 16-year-old Vernon Lee, who handed Malaysia a 1-2 sweep with a time of 4:00.40. Singaporean Jeremy Kevin Matthews was third in 4:01.55.
It was a personal best for Kevin, who was the winner of the event at the Indonesia SEA Games last year, but he missed out by 0.06s on the London Olympic selection time of 3:54.13.
Kevin had set a winning time of 3:54.55 when he competed at the Malaysian Open in Bukit Jalil last month and had set his sights on nailing a bonus spot in the discipline at the ongoing SEA meet.
Kevin had already beaten the Olympic selection time for the 1,500m freestyle at the Singapore national age-group meet in March and has a chance to renew his personal best time when he swims the 30-lap race today.
The 22-year-old Kevin, who hails from Kuala Lumpur, stands a good chance to make his Olympic debut in London when the qualifiers are finalised next week as the field is not as big for long distance events compared to short sprint races.
Another Olympic hopeful, Khoo Cai Lin, bagged her second gold medal in as many days by winning the 800m freestyle final.
Cai Lin, however, failed to better her seeding time of 8:48.55 after finishing the race in 8:52.45.
Indonesiaís Raina Saumi took silver in 9:00.47 while the bronze went to young Thai swimmer Benjaporn Sriphanomthron, who posted 9:11.46.
The third Malaysian medal was contributed by the menís 4x100m freestyle relay team of Vernon Lee, Lim Ching Hwang, Tern Jian Han and Ian James Barr.
Marellyn Liew, the Terengganu Sukma (Malaysia Games) Best Sportsgirl in 2008, saw her Olympic hopes come to an end with a disappointing swim in the 100m butterfly.
Marellyn, the countryís top woman butterfly swimmer, managed only sixth placing with 1:03.44 in the race won by Beijing Olympic finalist Tao Li of Singapore.