Dr Kevin Lim, a three-time Olympian, a medical doctor and a true pro. No doubts about that.
But I have an issue with him.
I've covered Dr Kevin twice beyond our waters - the first in the Athens Olympics and the second the Doha Asian Games.
Apart from the formal interviews and the occasional encounters at the internet cafe of the Games Village in Athens, I finally got the chance to engage Dr Kevin positively two years later in Doha.
I did not pull any punches in the interview yet being the educated, open and cultured individual that he is, the good doctor took every question in his stride. A true pro, I thought to myself.
I did ask him a few stinging questions, like what has he got to show after the massive investment in him. He was a recipient of government's scholarship for his medical studies and of course his training as a sailor was bankrolled by the National Sports Council.
In short, what is the ROI (returns on investments)?
I wrote in my review of the Asian Games for the Malay Mail that Kevin was one of the contingent's biggest disappointments.
He arrived on the Gulf shores hoping to end his wait for a title but returned to Sydney empty-handed.
In what was his fifth appearance in the Asian Games, the good doctor was in troubled waters from the very first day when he was adjudged to have jumped the gun in the men's laser category. After three Olympics and five Asian Games, Kevin had only the Asian title in 1999 and the two silvers in the Asian Games (1998 and 2002) to show.
And he wants to continue until Beijing 2008. Good idea?
A few days before the race, I attended his press conference.
I wrote this
LIFE has not been plain sailing for sailor Kevin Lim (pic), particularly
during the past few months.
Fondly known as the doctor, for he's the only qualified physician out
of the 231 Malaysian athletes slated to sample life in Doha for the next
two weeks, Kevin has put his medical career on hold in order to land that
elusive gold in the Asiad.
Twice he finished second to South Korean Kim Ho-kon, in the 1998 Games
in Bangkok and the Busan edition four years ago.
The 30-year old Sydney-based sailor, however, has doubts whether or not
it was the right decision to make.
Too late you say?
Well, not really.
Sure, he is two years away from the Beijing Olympics, which would be a
fitting finale for the Kuala Lumpur lad.
True he has the full support of the National Sports Council (NSC).
Sure he has been honing his skills at various places in Europe of late.
All this, however, has come at the expense of his medical career.
He resigned from the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney to pursue his
hobby, a recreational activity that is also part of the biggest sporting
extravaganza, the Olympics.
It's not only a bread and butter issue for Kevin. A question that needs
to be addressed by the NSC is whether or not Kevin will continue after
Doha to have that final shot at glory in Beijing. Or will he be retiring
for good from this Arabian adventure, perhaps after delivering the gold?
"It's something that I have to decide. I have been enjoying full
support from NSC for this Games but I detect a reluctance on their part
to discuss what comes after this.
"I have several options. I might want to start concentrating on my
medical career. You might look at it from the short-term point of view,
but my plan does not involve going to back to Malaysia in the immediate
"After all I have a girlfriend (Phoebe Stanford) who is also a doctor
at the Prince of Wales hospital. Maybe between eight and 10 years from
today, I might want to go back to Malaysia as a specialist," said Kevin
at the Athletes' Village yesterday.
A gold after a series of races in Doha might just prompt Kevin and the
NSC to go back to the negotiating table.
His prospects in his fifth appearance in the Asiad?
"Nothing less than the gold. Of course I'm anxious but it's all in the
head," said Kevin, adding that he would look forward to renewing rivalry
Ever since his Asiad debut as a 14-year old in the optimist class in
Beijing, Kevin has gone through the mill. And survived a few close calls.
The most recent was the capsize on the French Mediterranean coast. A
strong squall of wind flipped his boat, broke his expensive carbon-fibre
tiller and ripped his sail and Kevin was thrown into the deep end and had
to be rescued.
The wind in Doha is not expected to send the sailors into troubled
The external factors do not seem to trouble Kevin.
In fact, he's enjoying his brief sojourn in the Gulf.
"I'm impressed with the Athletes' Village. Our apartments are fully
equipped, and we have cable TV. That's a first," said Kevin, who has
competed in three Olympics and four Asiads.
In return, it is only natural we expect nothing less than the gold from
the good doctor.
Now Dr Kevin, who has qualified for his fourth Olympics, is unhappy with the Malaysian Yachting Association's decision to conduct another selection process.
This e-mail was from Dr Kevin, which was forwarded to me
I have just got word that MYA and NSC are proposing a selection event in Langkawi in the month of June to select the Olympic representative for Malaysia in the Laser class.
I feel this is a grave injustice and am completely opposed to it because:
1.) MYA did not even register anybody for the last Olympic Qualifying event in Australia this year which indicates to me that they were happy not to send anybody to the Olympics
2.) I contacted the Laser Class association after the close of the registration deadline and had to plead with them to accept my entry, pay for everything on my own and stop work from November 2007 in order to qualify the country without any assistance from NSC nor MYA.
Interestingly, the coach that was sent by MYA for the qualifying event was flown business class to Australia, was accompanied by his whole family to Australia, was paid handsomely and was given money for the sailors entry fee, food, accommodation, travel expenses etc, not a cent of which was given to me.
3.) Since qualifying I have been training full time, sacrificing my professional development as a doctor to represent Malaysia and compete in the European circuit so as to give myself the best chance possible to do well at the Olympics.
4.) The date of the proposed selection event in Malaysia in June will compromise any athletes ability to peak again 2 months later during the Olympics. I already have a full programme from now till the Olympics and having to change them now will jeopardise my preparation.
5.) All the other Malaysian sailors have had ample opportunity to train in Langkawi and become familiar with the conditions there yet I have not ever been invited to join them and have minimal knowledge of the proposed selection venue which will be a tremendous disadvantage.
6.) The proposed selection event will be conducted in a biased environment since the race committee and jury members will be dominated by locals, possibly impartial and not of the calibre of ISAF grade 1 or grade 2 events. There is also the risk that sailors may team up against each other.
7.) NSC and MYA are inherently biased against me since they have not given me any assistance nor sufficient funding since Dec 2006 as they have been doing for the other sailors. The coach that NSC employs has also not given me any assistance while I was in Europe for the last 4 weeks.
8.) Malaysia failed to make the qualifying mark in the 2007 Olympic qualifying event which I did not attend. Since then, no other Malaysian besides me has been actively campaigning for the Olympic Games. Based on the results from 2007 they would not have qualified for the Olympics in 2008 either.
I can only conclude that NSC and MYA have so little faith in their own ability to produce an Olympian in sailing that they have to resort to maliciously stealing the spot that I qualified for independently on merit and try to deprive me of my spot to the Olympic Games.
Qualifying for the Olympics is no easy task - more so when it is self funded and done predominantly as a part time athlete. NSC and MYA should not attempt to rob me of all my sacrifices now when they have not showed any interest in qualifying for the Olympics since July 2007.