Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Swimming: Coach Urquhart returning to Australia after SEA Games

PETALING JAYA: Australian coach Gavin Urquhart is leaving the Malaysian swimming team after the SEA Games in Thailand in December.

Urquhart, in a surprise move, informed the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) and National Sports Council (NSC) of his intention to quit recently. His two-year contract expires after the 2008 Beijing Olympics but either party can terminate it.

Urquhart: Wants to settle down with his fiancee.
Urquhart said that he wanted to return home to settle down with his fiancee, Coleen Taylor.

“She got a good job back in Australia and it is a good time I start thinking about settling down. I want to leave on good terms and it is only appropriate that I clear my responsibilities first,” said Urquhart, who has 15 years of experience as a coach and is affiliated to the Western Australia Institute of Sport.

“The SEA Games is important and I want to put my focus on guiding all the swimmers going to achieve good results.”

Urquhart, who initially came to Malaysia on a six-month contract, has done a creditable job to bring up the standard of the Malaysian swimming team over the last few months.

Daniel Bego, Melvin Chua, Eric Chang and Khoo Cai Lin were the only full-time swimmers based at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil when Urquhart took charge last year. But the squad have been expanded to 14 swimmers.

Daniel has made tremendous progress since the end of last year and recently qualified for the Olympics in two events – the 200m distances of butterfly and freestyle.

Daniel was Malaysia’s most outstanding performer in the World Youth Championships in August last year when he won two silver medals (100m and 200m butterfly) and earned two fourth-place finishes.

And there is hope on Cai Lin and Melvin to earn tickets to the Olympics as well.

Cai Lin beat the Olympic B qualifying mark of 4:20.05 with a time of 4:19.65 in the Malaysian Open in Seremban early this month. But the championships was not recognised as an Olympic qualifying event.

“The SEA Games is an Olympic qualifying event and I hope she can achieve her target there. She also has a shot at qualifying for the 800m freestyle. Melvin can also make it in the 200m backstroke,” said Urquhart.

Daniel first came under the charge of Urquhart when he was based in Brisbane for two months before the Melbourne Commonwealth Games last March.

The Star

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