By Aida Adillah Mat
KUALA LUMPUR: The success of national diver Cheong Jun Hoong in upstaging China’s much fancied divers in becoming a world champion has put the national divers in a class of their own leading up to the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia from April 4-15.
However, the danger, or rather threat from English, Canadian and Australian divers cannot be taken lightly.
Looking at the achievements from four years ago at the 2014 Glasgow edition, England dominated the medal haul by winning four golds, followed by Canada (3) and Australia (2). Malaysia did not return from the Games empty handed at the time thanks to Ooi Tze Liang who struck gold in the 2m springboard.
However, the good partnership and understanding between Jun Hoong and the country’s other top female diver, Pandelela Rinong who teamed up to win silver in the 10m synchronised platform at the recent Fina World Series in Beijing, China has brought newfound hope that the national diving team can do better this time round compared to four years ago.
Though the national diving camp is fretting over the injuries to Jun Hoong, Pandelela and Leong Mun Yee as they race against time to get fit and ready for competition.
Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM) honorary secretary, Mae Chen said that the three divers injuries are not that serious and that the divers preparations are going according to plan so they remain optimistic and confident in being able to do well in Gold Coast.
Mae Chen added that realistically the national divers will be aiming to win four medals which was achieved four years ago in Glasgow (1 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze).
The good form of young divers such as Hanis Nazirul Jaya Surya and Jellson Jabillin are also being banked on as Nur Dhabitah Sabri form has been inconsistent of late.
“I just hope that all the national divers will be able to perform at the Games. Even though Dhabitah did not perform very well at the two recent Fina World Series meets, We are all hoping that she will be back at her best in Gold Coast,” she said.
Meanwhile, five national swimmers, Welson Sim, Chan Jie Tern Jian Han, Keith Lim and Malaysia’s sole female swimmer, Caroline Chan will carry Malaysia’s hopes into the competition pool in Gold Coast.
Based on their recent achievements and timings, any target of a medal is realistically out of reach.
In fact, coach Paul Birmingham has also admitted that the national swimmers do not stand much of a chance in winning medals because they will be competing against world and Olympic champions whose performance and timings are far superior.