Malaysia’s new breaststroke queen aims for Olympics

Malaysia’s new breaststroke queen aims for Olympics

KUALA LUMPUR: Alicia Li Ann Soosai was a hit with the crowd after she defeated Hong Kong’s Natalie Kan Cheuk Tung for the gold in the 50m breaststroke at the recent 2019 Malaysia Open Swimming Championships.

The 15-year-old recorded a time of 32.83 seconds, 0.02s ahead of the Hong Kong swimmer.

The Johorean, who made a clean sweep of the breaststroke events in the 2018 Perak Sukma, had earlier won the 100m and 200m breaststroke events at the competition.

However, the journey doesn’t end here as the young athlete will next be competing in the 15th Singapore National Swimming Championships, Southeast Asia Age Group Swimming Championships, and FINA Swimming World Cup in Singapore this year.

“Participating in the SEA Games is my main goal this year, it will be considered a huge accomplishment for me (to see SEA Games action),” said Alicia.

Speaking of her lifetime dream, the budding swimmer said it’s none other than getting into the Olympics, just like her idol Katie Ledecky of the United States, who won five Olympic gold medals and 14 world championship titles.

Alicia was inspired by Ledecky’s line saying that ‘You could fail in training, but you would do well in competition’, that made her into a better person.

“It tells me that in training it is okay to fail, do your best in whatever it is. But when the time has come, you just leave it all in the pool,” Alicia told Bernama, adding that her family also became the main pillar of support when she was struggling with the “waves of mental struggle” in the pool.

Alicia admitted that she has been struggling with her limits for many years, which turned out to be turning slow at the end of the pool, one after another dash on the wall and eventually lose her lead in the race.

“I’m also quite weak in maintaining my speed at the end of the race, my first few laps were always better. For instance, in the 200m events, my first hundred went swiftly but my second hundred was just below average,” she said humbly.

Nonetheless, she has been training specifically for longer distance like the 400m individual medley to achieve a breakthrough as it will improve herself generally as a swimmer.

“If I train for longer and harder events, the shorter events become easier. That’s my strategy when I go back for training.

“It was a major motivation for me. Since then, I continue to improve and keep working on it,” said Alicia, who started to swim competitively at the age of nine and had her first training at a local club in Singapore before joining the Swimfast Aquatic Club in 2013.

Alicia, who never stops pushing herself, is aiming to take home at least five gold in the 2020 Johor Sukma, in her pet events – 50m, 100m, 200m breaststrokes, 200m individual medley, as well as 200m freestyle.

“I’m looking forward to the event (Sukma Johor), it’s a lively and nice atmosphere when I’m in my home state (Johor). It’s something I want to work for and win more medals as well. Swimming is such a big part of my life since I was nine, I want to make sure it’s worth the pain and happiness, worthwhile for both me and my family.

“It’s a journey to be remembered so I want it to be something that will be part of me for the rest of my life,” she added.