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The Star Online: Sports

Lai Kwan hoping to win a place in 2012 Olympics

Posted: 27 Dec 2010 05:01 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Swimmer Chui Lai Kwan hopes to build on a string of breakthrough performances to win a place in the 2012 London Olympics.

The 20-year-old swimmer made a big splash in her second appearance in the Asean University Games in Chiang Mai last week by bagging six gold medals.

Besides winning in her pet 50m freestyle event, Lai Kwan pulled off a double in backstroke races over 50m and 100m. She was also part of the victorious relay combination with Leung Chii Lin, Khoo Cai Lin and Marellyn Liew in the 4x100 and 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m medley.

"The six gold medals are bonuses to me," said Lai Kwan, who hails from Sandakan.

"There were SEA Games swimmers in the fray in the short sprint events and I knew the competition was going to be tough. I was expecting three gold medals, at the most.

"I'm happy I broke the 100m backstroke and 50m freestyle meet records as well."

Lai Kwan came out shining in the second half of the year.

She erased fellow Sabahah Leung Chii Lin's two-year-old 50m freestyle national record of 26.18 by clocking 26.03 to become the first Malaysian to swim in a Commonwealth Games final in New Delhi last October.

Lai Kwan went on to clock 26.08 for seventh place in the Guangzhou Asian Games last month.

Despite not tapering for the University Games, Lai Kwan clocked 26.42 and she believed a place in the Olympics is within her reach.

"The qualifying time for the Olympics is 25.72 for the 50m freestyle. I will try to beat it in the world championships in Shanghai next year," said Lai Kwan, who has high hopes of stamping her mark in the SEA Games in Indonesia next year.

Lai Kwan won the 50m freestyle gold medal in the 2007 Korat SEA Games but failed to retain the title in Laos last year.

Judging from her performances, Lai Kwan can fancy a shot at winning at least two gold medals in the sprint races in the biennial regional Games in Indonesia in November if she keeps up her form.

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Wrist injury forces Zheng Jie to sit out the Australian Open

Posted: 27 Dec 2010 04:59 PM PST

BEIJING: Chinese number two Zheng Jie will miss next month's Australian Open, where she went to the semi-finals in 2010, as she continues to recover from wrist surgery.

Zheng Jie, 27, said she was still not ready to get back on court following an injury to her left wrist that plagued her throughout the year and ended her season following the US Open.

Zheng Jie is currently number 26 in the WTA Tour rankings, but will see that number drop after the first Grand Slam of 2011 at Melbourne Park, as she will lose the points she earned from her semi-final run this year.

"I did withdraw from next year's Australian Open. It is a hard decision for me to make. I have plenty of good memories and experiences there," she said in a post on microblogging site Twitter, the Global Times reported.

"But I believe there will be more Australian Opens for me to attend if I can regain my health."

Zheng Jie aggravated the injury in a run to the women's doubles semi-finals at the US Open. She then underwent surgery, forcing her to miss the rest of the season including the Asian Games in Guangzhou.

The Chengdu native hopes to make her 2011 debut at the PTT Pattaya Open in Thailand in February, the Global Times said.

China's number one Li Na, also a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park in 2010, is expected to be action at the Australian Open, which runs from January 17 to 30. – AFP

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