While England U20 World Cup triumph and Rafael Nadal’s 10th French Open victory dominated sporting headlines all over the world on Sunday, a Kota Samarahan boy from Malaysia pulled off a stunning upset by beating Olympic champion Mark Horton in the 400m freestyle event at the Mare Nostrum Tour Swimming Championship in Monaco. It was a stunning feat for a swimmer who has made impeccable strides in the last two years, though he has had to work extremely hard to scale these heights. To commemorate his immaculate feat, here are five things you know about Welson Sim!
Welson was exposed to water from the tender age of 7, but it wasn’t until 10 when he officially started swimming lessons. But it didn’t take him long to get himself accustomed though – merely one year later, Welson made his competitive debut in the President Cup swimming competition as an 11 year-old swimmer. From that moment, there was no turning back. He participated in competitions after competitions and started building a reputation for himself in the national aquatic scene.
In a fascinating interview with DSA Swim Team, Welson revealed one of the key ingredients behind his success from a young age. According to Welson, his parents never placed any pressure on his shoulders, which meant that there was absolutely no expectations for him, heading into competitions as a kid. This turned out to be a huge boost for Welson, who could then progress at his own pace and ensure that expectations are managed carefully. In fact, Welson even thinks unnecessary pressure is a huge problem that needs proper caution and care from parents.
Welson suffers from asthma and his condition was relatively severe when he was a lot younger, which led to him being hospitalized on several occasions as a kid. But his mother opted to not let that deter her son from pursuing sports and decided to enrol him into swimming. “There was once I was in the water, and suddenly my body felt very tired, very weak. And I felt the water was very cold. In the end, I persisted in swimming. After swimming, my body warmed up, I felt better,” he told Milo during a video interview in June 2015. He continues to have asthma today, though the attacks are no longer as frequent and bad as they used to be.
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
Athletes will always have different answers for this particular question but as far as Welson Sim is concerned, it’s 10% physical training and 90% mental toughness. In fact, he splits it into two parts. “When you are in preparation mode, your focus is on the physical ability and about 10% on mental strength, whereas at a competition, only about 10% is on your physical ability as your training will automatically take over,” he told DSA Swim team. He remains a huge proponent of sports psychology and believes that it plays a huge role in building champions from a young age.
BIG ACHIEVEMENTS, BIG DREAMS
Welson’s first international breakthrough came at the 2015 SEA Games, when he won bronze in the 200m freestyle before going on to break the SEA Games record en route to winning the 400m freestyle. One year later, Welson exceeded expectations at the 47th Singapore National Age Group (SNAG) Swimming Championships, winning the 200m and 400m freestyle to officially secure his Rio Olympic spots for both events. Now, fresh after beating Olympic champion Mark Horton for gold in Monaco, Welson will be switching his attention towards the upcoming SEA Games, where he is aspiring to clinch three gold medals in the 200m, 400m and 1500m freestyle events.