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KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 -- Teenage swimmer Khiew Hoe Yean sprang a surprise on the opening day of the 63rd Malaysia Open by blowing away Olympian Welson Sim en route to victory in the men’s 400-metre (m) freestyle event at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil today.
The 19-year-old’s time of 3:51.56s also surpassed the Olympic Selection Time (OST) of 3:53.58s.
Welson, who holds the national record of 3:49.29s, clocked a dismal 3:57.74s, followed by Sebastian Soon (4:02.63s).
Hoe Yan, whose last competitive outing saw him bag eight golds at the Malaysia Invitational Age Group Swimming Championships in March last year, said he was satisfied with his timing, although he was still not guaranteed a place in the Tokyo Olympics.
“I am quite satisfied with today’s timing, it was a great experience as we’ve not had any competitions since last March. So, I am kind of happy to have achieved the B-cut for the Olympics.
“It feels great to compete with Welson and I think I still have much more to learn from him. To be honest, his personal best is still better than mine. I don’t know if I can go to the Olympics, but it is one of my dreams and targets since I started swimming,” he told Bernama.
The Kuala Lumpur swimmer will next compete in the 200m backstroke event tomorrow, followed by 200m and 800m freestyle events on Sunday.
Only swimmers who meet the Olympic Qualifying Time (OQT) in their respective events by June 27 are guaranteed slots at the Olympics. In the case of the men’s 400m event, the OQT is 3:46.78s.
Swimmers can also qualify under the OST, based on universal participation, meaning a nation with no Olympic qualifier will be allowed to enter up to one male and one female swimmer for the Tokyo Games.
Welson, 24, had previously chalked up a better OST when he clocked 3:49.55s to win the 2019 SEA Games 400m freestyle event silver medal.
Meanwhile, Welson emerged victorious in the men’s 100m freestyle by clocking 50.80s, followed by Samuel Ng Chong Cheng (54.68s) and Yap Yong Jie (54.89s).
The men’s 100m breaststroke event saw national record holder Ng Jing Fu bagging the gold in 1:04.45s, way slower than his record of 1:02.34s set two years ago. Fellow Selangor swimmers Jordan Yip (1:04.45s) was second and Hii Puong Wei (1:04.54s) third.
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