KHOO Cai Lin churned up another awesome performance to emerge as the first double gold medallist for Malaysia in the 24th SEA Games, winning the 800m freestyle at the Aquatics Centre of the Korat Sports Complex last night.
Cai Lin just pulled away from the field from the start to become the first athlete to smash two SEA Games records in Korat. She clocked 8:47.80 to erase the previous record of 8:58.88 set by Thailand’s Intaporn-Udom in Jakarta in 1997.
Lynette Lim of Singapore took silver in 8:56.19 ahead of Malaysia’s Lew Yih Wey, who clocked 9:00.82.
The victory was extra sweet for Cai Lin as she also erased the longest national swimming record in the country of 8:47.98 belonging to the sensational Nurul Huda Abdullah.
Her effort in the event also met the Beijing Olympics qualifying mark of 8:54.04. Cai Lin had also won the 400m freestyle on Saturday in a Games record and it also gave her a spot in the Olympics.
Cai Lin has stamped her mark as the best middle and long distance swimmer to emerge since Nurul. And winning two gold medals in new records have not really sunk in yet.
“I did not expect to improve so much. But I guess I have been training really hard,” said Cai Lin, who dedicated the two golds to her coach, family, friends and all Malaysians back home.
“I wanted to get a place in the Olympics badly. I have been dreaming about it since I went into the swimming programme in Bukit Jalil. I guess that was what gave me the extra strength to push.”
The gold medal-winning efforts by Cai Lin and also Daniel Bego in the 100m butterfly earlier, meant that the team’s target of five gold medals has been met.
Yih Wey was the gold medallist in the 200m backstroke and Siow Yi Ting won the 200m individual medley.
Luisa Los Santos also delivered a surprise performance, smashing Marellyn Liew’s two-week-old national record in taking silver in the women’s 100m butterfly.
The lanky Luisa clocked 1:02.08 against Marellyn’s previous mark of 1:02.67 set in the national inter-club meet in Kuala Lumpur. Marellyn also went under her previous record in taking bronze in 1:02.25. The gold medal went to Tao Li of Singapore (1:00.03).
Negri Sembilan-born Chai Sook Fun claimed her first individual medal when she took bronze in the 100m backstroke in 1:06.03.