PETALING JAYA - The absence of an established performer for Malaysia in swimming means the gold medals will be hard to come by in next month's Myanmar SEA Games.
Nurul Huda Abdullah and Jeffrey Ong ruled the pool in the 1980s but their departures were felt in subsequent Games from 1991 to 1995 as Malaysia only managed to bag two golds each time.
The tally increased again in later editions with the emergence of a new breed of swimmers based in the United States like Lim Keng Liat, Elvin Chia and Siow Yi Ting before the likes of Khoo Cai Lin and Daniel Bego began to take over.
Breaststroker Yi Ting has since called it quits two months ago due to her age and a growth in her neck.
Yi Ting's absence will be really felt especially as she contributed two out of the five golds at the last Games in Indonesia.
So, not much is not expected of the 14-member team - nine men and five women. On top of that, five of them are newcomers as Malaysia go through a transitional period. At best, they are only considered good for only three golds.
Daniel is back after missing the previous Games to recover from shoulder injuries but it remains to be seen whether he has what it takes to repeat the five-gold splash in Laos in 2009.
The men's squad will also have Kevin Yeap, Asian Youth Games gold medallist Lim Ching Hwang, Yap See Tuan, Shaun Yap, Wong Fu Kang,Tern Jian Han, Vernon Lee and Welson Sim while Cai Lin, Christina Loh, Erika Kong, Yap Siew Hui and Nadia Adrianna Redza make up the women's team.
Shaun (breaststroke), Fu Kang (breaststroke), Welson (freestyle), Siew Hui (butterfly) and Nadia Adrianna Redza (breastroke) are the five promising youngsters that will be making their debuts.