Facts about Malaysian swimmer Welson Sim

Five years ago at the Rio Olympics, shirtless flag-bearer Pita Taufatofua from Tonga made international headlines when he walked across the stage with a smile on his face. This year, it’s Malaysia’s turn as our very own athlete, Welson Sim, took the Internet by storm for his handsome looks.

But there’s so much more to him than just his pretty face. Here’s a list of 8 lesser-known facts about the national swimmer that you should know since he’s trending online.

1. He’s the first Malaysian swimmer to be qualified for two Category A events at the Olympics

Malaysian swimmer Welson Sim
Image credit: @welsonsim

Welson Sim is the first Malaysian swimmer to qualify for two Category A events, the 200m Freestyle and 400m Freestyle at the world’s biggest sporting event. He made this record when he contested in the 2016 Rio Olympics when he was only 19.

He told the press in 2014 that his dream was to compete in the Olympics. Shortly after the interview, his dreams came true.

It is also worth noting that when he qualified for the Rio Olympics in 2016, he had broken the previous record held by Malaysian swimmers Daniel Bego in the 200m Freestyle (1:49.22s) by clocking 1:47.67s for the event, and Kevin Yeap’s 3:53.26s in 400m Freestyle with 3:50.33s.

2. He’s competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics 2020 while nursing a broken arm

Malaysian swimmer in action
Image credit: Berita Harian Online

Sim is also representing Malaysia this year at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. However, his performance is not his personal best because he’s still recovering from a motorcycle accident from March 2021.

Yesterday, New Straits Times quoted national swimming coach Chris Martin saying that Sim has been struggling to perform after breaking his arm following the accident.

He had “two pins inserted into his left arm after the incident”, but he is doing all he can to deliver at the Games. His sportsmanship is something to be looked upon because he prioritises the Games more than his health.

3. He started swimming at the age of 10 when he was diagnosed with asthma

Malaysian swimmer in pool
Image credit: @welsonsim

Sim shouldn’t be recognised as just a handsome national swimmer because the story of his swimming career can be a true inspiration for many.

He started swimming at the age of 10 when he was diagnosed with asthma during his early childhood days. It was his mother who had asked him to take part in swimming in order to overcome the condition.

Thankfully, as he started swimming, his condition got better and now he’s cured of the disease. Sim joined the Sarawak state swimming team at the age of 12 and the rest, as they say, is history.

4. He has won three gold medals in the SEA Games and competed in over 20 countries

Malaysian swimmer Welson Sim
Image credit: @welsonsim

At present, Sim is one of the top athletes of Malaysia, although he’s not as well-known as our Greatest Athlete Of All Time, Nicol David, or even our badminton shuttlers Datuk Lee Chong Wei or Lee Zii Jia.

Sim has won three gold, six silver and three bronze in the SEA Games so far. He mostly trains at the National Sports Complex and now has an international coach, Chris Martin, from the US who has more than 30 years of experience.

5. He’s a 24-year old Sarawakian

Malaysian swimmer Welson Sim when he was younger
Image credit: Ikan Bilis Swimming Club (1971) KL

A lot of people, including Malaysians, easily mistake Sim’s origins. Many would think he’s from Peninsular Malaysia but he is actually a Sarawakian born in Kuching on 29th March 1997. His full name is Welson Sim Wee Cheng.

He is also fondly known as a mummy’s boy because his biggest support system and mentor is his mother, Lee Ngiat Kim, who introduced him to swimming when he had asthma at a young age. His father, Sim Ah Tee, is said to run a business bringing fishermen out to sea.

The Malay Mail reported in 2016 that when he was younger, his mother used to send him for training at 5.30AM and wait 2 hours for him to finish. Welson’s mum also accompanied him to the 2016 Rio Olympics, thanks to One Stop Furnishing Sdn Bhd and Ideas Factory Sdn Bhd for sponsoring their trip.

6. He beat Olympic champion, Mack Horton of Australia, at the 2017 Mare Nostrum Tour

Malaysian swimmer Welson Sim with Mack Horton
Image credit: @welsonsim

Another remarkable achievement of Sim in swimming has to be the gold medal he won for the Men’s 400m Freestyle event at the Mare Nostrum Tour 2017 in Monaco. The Mare Nostrum is a swimming tournament held annually in three European countries around the Mediterranean Sea – Monaco, France and Spain.

That year Sim made international headlines for beating Olympic champion Mack Horton of Australia and Qiu Ziao of China, who won the silver and bronze medals respectively.

He clocked 3:49:48s in Monaco, beating his own national record of 3:50:33s at the National Age Group swimming championships in Singapore in March 2016.

7. He participated in the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics before Rio and Tokyo Olympics

Malaysian swimmer
Image credit: @baeboycrush

Sim’s first participation in the Olympics was at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, prior to his participation in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

In that competition, he contested in three events: the 200m Freestyle, 400m Freestyle, and 800m Freestyle events and ranked 13th, 11th and 15th respectively.

8. He’s now trending online in China for his good looks

Welson Sim appearance on TV
Image credit: Lost Bird

Perhaps the most well-known fact about Sim currently is that he is now trending online in China for his handsome looks after a two-second appearance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics broadcast on TV.

Yesterday, The Star reported that two close-up shots of Welson’s masked face during the live telecast caught the attention of netizens in China before he started trending on their social media platforms.

People have been gushing over his looks and left comments such as “The Malaysian team has a shuai ge (handsome man)” and “I immediately went searching for his Instagram account” among others.

Facts about Malaysian swimmer Welson Sim who’s trending online

While it’s amusing to see Sim gaining popularity overseas for his looks, he’s definitely more than just a pretty face to all Malaysians, representing our country in regional and international sports events and achieving medals because of his hard work and determination.

We’re sending lots of love to Sim and all of our national athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Read more inspiring stories about Malaysia athletes:

Cover image adapted from: Ikan Bilis Swimming Club (1971) KL, @welsonsim and @welsonsim

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