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James eyes first paralympic gold for Malaysia

ADELAIDE (Australia): A young Malaysian, who was recently voted the best international student athlete in the state of South Australia, has his sights set on winning the first paralympic gold medal for Malaysia.

James Wong Tien Yu, 18, who was born with part of his left arm missing, has achieved outstanding results in swimming and studies since coming here this year to complete a foundation course at Bradford College.

In August, Wong impressed when he won one gold, three silver and one bronze at the Adelaide State Short Course Championship.

This follows his successes at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Guangzhou, Solo and in Germany.

At the Malaysian National championship in November 2010, Wong defeated reigning champion David Wangyu Kulek, setting a national 100m breaststroke record, finishing the year ranked sixth in Asia and 24th in the world. 
"My aspirations include continuing to successfully train and compete in Adelaide and Australia and ultimately becoming the first person to win a Paralympic gold medal for Malaysia.

"If I win a gold medal, it would definitely raise awareness and acceptance of disabled sports and disabilities in Malaysia," Wong told Bernama.

Wong said he had great confidence in his Adelaide swimming coach Jordan Blackmore whose training programme has helped him achieve excellence in the sport.

"I know it's a long journey and there are no short cuts, but I am fully committed to fulfilling my dream of winning gold for Malaysia," Wong said.

He said his disability has not stopped him making waves. "In fact it has opened up a world of opportunities for me," Wong said.
 
"After a near-drowning incident when I was seven, I quickly embraced swimming and love the sport. 

"Growing up in Subang Jaya, my family never treated me differently and I feel this has been to my benefit. My family has sacrificed a lot of time to support my swimming and I am extremely grateful to them."

Wong also paid tribute to his Malaysian coaches Lewin Lim and May Ang who set the course to help achieve his ambition.

Wong plans to continue his studies at the University of Adelaide for a Bachelor of Economics degree next year. 

He secured 85.2 per cent average in his foundation mid-semester exams, gaining 96 per cent in accounting. 

"Swimming is very popular in Australia and the training facilities and coaching are fantastic.

"I chose Adelaide because of the advantage it holds for international students, including quality universities, and living standards and it's a friendly city," Wong said. 

Wong is a member of Norwood Swimming Club which has produced many Olympic and Paralympic champions.

"My experience of studying and training abroad has made me resilient, independent and confident of winning gold for Malaysia," Wong said.