THE exploits of Malaysian swimmer Daniel Bego get better and better.
He pulled off a stunning victory in the men’s 100m butterfly at the Aquatics Centre of the Korat Sports Complex last night and in the process became the first Malaysian swimmer to qualify for three events in the Olympics.
The 18-year-old won the race from the outside lane in 54.33, leaving United States-trained James Walsh of the Philippines in his wake f or silver in 55.47.
Daniel, who just completed his SPM examinations before flying off to Korat, not only smashed his own national record of 54.40 set at the World Youth Championships in Brazil last year but also demolished the four-year-old SEA Games record of 55.04 held by Lim Keng Liat.
While Daniel was able to retain the 100m butterfly title, securing an Olympic spot in Beijing in the event must have meant more to him.
The Sarawakian had qualified for the 200m butterfly and 200m freestyle in an international meet in Japan in August.
As the slowest qualifier for the 100m butterfly final yesterday with a time of 57.28, Daniel had to swim in Lane 1.
But he saved his best for last and finished nearly one body length ahead of Walsh.
“I did not want to go all out in the morning because I was determined to hold on to this gold,” said Daniel, who also swam in the men’s 400m freestyle heats but did not make the final.
“I was pacing myself in the 100m butterfly and it was quite risky. I would not have made it if I had been a second slower.
“For the final, I told myself that I did not want to repeat this and I just went all out.”
Daniel’s performance was least expected, considering he was not in the best of shape going into the competition. He settled for the silver in the men’s 100m freestyle on Saturday.
Coach Gavin Urquhart said: “He had not been training as much as the others because of his exams. Making it worse was the fever after arriving here. But to me, he is a Ferrari and since Daniel has a day’s rest today, he should be fresh in his bid to end the competition on a high.”
Daniel is down to defend his 200m freestyle title and will attempt to better his previous haul in Manila by winning the 200m butterfly as well.
“I will just take whatever that comes first,” added Daniel.
Earlier, Malaysia’s Kevin Yeap led the field for the first 300m in the men’s 400m freestyle. However, the youngster ran out of steam and finished sixth in 4:04.60.
In the men’s 100m backstroke, Malaysia’s Linvern Lim and Eric Chang finished fifth (1:00.09) and sixth (1:01.02) respectively.