EARLY BOOST FOR HEIDI

Wins a his­toric medal for Malaysia in Asian meet ahead of Sea Games chal­lenge

New Straits Times - - Sport - AJITPAL SINGH ajit­pals­ingh@nst.com.my

HEIDI Gan etched her name in the his­tory books when the twotime Olympian be­came the first Malaysian to win a medal in the Asian Open Wa­ter Swim­ming Cham­pi­onships yes­ter­day.

The Perth-based swim­mer over­came the hu­mid­ity to fin­ish third in the women’s 5km race in 1:05:03.586s in Lake Pu­tra­jaya.

Yumi Kida of Ja­pan won the race in 1:03:40.600s while com­pa­triot Yukimi Noriyama took third on 1:03:47.313s.

Al­though the 5km race will not be con­tested at the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games in Au­gust, Heidi was happy to emerge as the best placed swim­mer from the re­gion.

Sin­ga­pore’s Chan­tal Liew was the next best fin­isher from Southeast Asia in sixth spot, fol­lowed by Thai­land’s Nee­lanuch in 11th.

Malaysia’s sec­ond en­try An­gela Chieng was dis­qual­i­fied for a tech­ni­cal in­fringe­ment.

“I took part in the race here as it’s the same course for the Sea Games. The achieve­ment is some­thing pos­i­tive for my progress,” said the 28-year-old Heidi.

“It was a small but com­pet­i­tive field. Yumi from Ja­pan was 12th in last year’s Rio Olympics.

“It was very hu­mid. The last time I swam in a sim­i­lar con­di­tion was at the 2011 Sea Games in In­done­sia, so it was a big chal­lenge to keep pace in front.”

Heidi, a dou­ble gold medal­list in open wa­ter swim­ming at the 2011 Sea Games, will also com­pete in the 10km race to­mor­row.

The 10km event will be con­tested in the Sea Games.

Na­tional swim­mer Wel­son Sim fin­ished a cred­itable fifth in the men’s 5km event by clock­ing 1:02:46.880s.

Ja­pan also se­cured a one-two fin­ish through Ya­sunari Hi­rai (1:00:28.953s) and Yohsuke Miyamoto (1:00:38.260s) while Kaza­khstan’s Vi­taliy Khudykov took third in 1:00:49.353s.

Heidi Gan

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