PETALING JAYA: Alex Lim Keng Liat is the best swimmer the country has produced thus far and he does not want the sports fraternity to keep harping on it.
In fact, it will make his day if Daniel Bego, who won the 2009 Olympian of the Year award last Saturday, takes over the mantle with a mighty splash in the Asian Games in Guangzhou in November.
“I have retired from swimming for some time but people still keep mentioning my name as the best the country has seen,” said Keng Liat, who is the only Malaysian to have won a swimming gold medal in the Asian Games – in the 100m backstroke event in Bangkok in 1998.
“I think Malaysian swimming needs a new role model, especially the younger generation who are just starting to move up.
“I hope Daniel can achieve something at the Guangzhou Asian Games as it has really been a while since a Malaysian swimmer stood on the podium.”
At the 1998 Bangkok Asiad, Keng Liat also took silver in the 200m backstroke. At the next edition of the Games in Busan, he bagged a silver in the 100m backstroke. Since then, no Malaysian swimmer has got among the medal winners.
“Daniel has qualified early for the Asiad and also the Commonwealth Games (in New Delhi in October) and this is something for him to build on,” said Keng Liat.
“He needs to push himself to work even harder to improve on the times. It’s very likely the times are not going to stay the same as the current ones were much influenced by the swimsuits.
“But Daniel is a little different. He is smart and I think he knows what he needs to do to be able to make an impact in these major Games.”
Even an Asiad swimming bronze will still be a prized catch for Daniel as it puts him in the same league as those from China, Japan and South Korea, who have make waves at the Olympics and world meets.
And after achieving a rare feat of winning all the five individual races he competed in at the SEA Games in Vientiane (four in Games record times), this should be the next big challenge for Daniel to take on.
At the Olympian awards ceremony on Saturday, the 30-year-old Keng Liat shared the same stage as Daniel when he was inducted into the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) Hall of Fame.
The other inductees were 2002 Busan Asiad wushu gold medallist Ho Ro Bin, Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr A. E. Delilkan (cricket), Datuk James Selvaraj (badminton) and Tan Sri Darshan Singh Gill (cycling).