The NST : Diving targets four medals, none for swimming

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.


Young junior swimmers awarded the Malaysia All Stars recognition

At the recent Malaysian International Age Group Swimming Championships 2018, ASUM launched the Malaysian Swimming All Star Program. The initiative has been designed to recognise and encourage our high achieving junior swimmers. Too often only our medal winners are recognised at the junior level and it is important to reward and motivate those athletes who may not yet be physically ready to challenge for medals but are still swimming fast times.

The All Star Qualifying standards were set for each event and each age group. The standards are expected to be roughly equal to a top 10 performance in the races. All swimmers that exceeded the qualifying times qualified to be a Malaysian All Star and received a certificate and All Star swim cap to recognise their achievement.

We will be continuing the All Star Program next year an we hope the program will continue to inspire our hardworking athletes to continue to train hard.

All Star Swimmers by state :

Selangor (45) , Kuala Lumpur (42), Sabah (22), Penang (22), Johor (14), Melaka (13), Sarawak (8), Perak (4), Negeri Sembilan (1), Pahang (1), Terengganu (1),

ASUM congratulates all swimmers for the great achievement.


Paul Birmingham

Head Coach
Malaysian National Swim Team



The Star : Pandelela-Jun Hoong nail second straight podium finish

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian divers Pandelela Rinong-Cheong Jun Hoong maintained their reputation as a world-class pairing with their second straight podium finish in the Diving World Series.

Newly crowned National Sportswoman for 2017 Jun Hoong partnered Pandelela to clinch the bronze medal in the women’s 10m platform synchro final in the second leg in Fuji, Japan, yesterday.

Jun Hoong-Pandelela slipped to third with two dives to go but managed to hold on to finish the competition with 310.32 points.

North Koreans Kim Mi-rae-Kim Kuk-hyang narrowly finished ahead of the Malaysian pair to take the silver with 311.58 points.

Pandelela-Jun Hoong, the Olympic silver medalists in Rio two years ago, took the silver behind the Chinese pair in the opening leg in Beijing, China, last week.

There will be a break of five weeks before the prestigious series resumes with two remaining legs in Montreal, Canada (April 27-29), and Kazan, Russia (May 4-6).

The Commonwealth Games is up next in Gold Coast from April 4-15 and Pandelela-Jun Hoong are pleased to have a psychological edge over their main Australian and Canadian rivals.

Australians Taneka Kovchenko-Melissa Wu and Canadians Meaghan Benfeito-Caeli McKay finished fifth (294.84) and sixth (283.20) respectively yesterday.

“I’m pleased with the performance in Beijing and Fuji. Our consistency is there now,” said Pandelela, who will compete in the 10m platform individual today.

The two-time Olympic medallist will have to fight her way to the top-six final from a tough heat comprising the likes of Benfeito, reigning Olympic champion Ren Qian and her Chinese teammate Zhang Jiaqi, the winner in Beijing last Sunday.

But Pandelela, who finished fourth in Beijing, is relishing the challenge.

“My semi-final group is tougher but I’ll try my best and focus on qualifying for the final. It’s getting more exciting,” she added.

Said world champion Jun Hoong: “I was sad not to be able to fly back to take the National Sportswoman award myself but it’s not too bad now. We still got a podium although not in the best of conditions.”

Dhabitah-Mun Yee finished sixth in the women’s 3m springboard synchro final with 253.14 points.


NST : Azizulhasni, Jun Hoong honoured at National Sports Awards

By Aida Adilah Mat – March 14, 2018


PETALING JAYA: As expected, reigning world champions Azizulhasni Awang and Cheong Jun Hoong were named as Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year at the 2017 National Sports Awards on Tuesday.

Track cyclist Azizulhasni, a bronze medallist at the Rio Olympics, won the keirin gold medal at the World Championships in Hong Kong in April last year to become the first ever Malaysian to wear the rainbow jersey.

Diver Jun Hoong was equally impressive at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest last July.

The Ipoh-born ended the dominance of China divers by winning the women’s 10m platform individual gold medal.

It is Jun Hoong’s first Sportswoman of the Year award and is Azizulhasni’s third win after 2009 and 2010.

Azizulhasni said he is honoured to be recognised for his achievements.

“I am very grateful to be named Sportsman of the Year for 2017. The is the third time I have won the most prestigious award for athletes in Malaysia,” said Azizulhasni.

“Winning this makes all the hard work, sacrifices and challenges I had faced worthwhile.

“It will definitely inspire me to strive for greater heights. I am now determined to do well at the upcoming Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Indonesia Asian Games.”

Azizulhasni added that he hopes his fellow Malaysian athletes will all work hard to achieve greater success.

The duo received RM20,000 in prize money, a trophy and a certificate each which was presented by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V.

Jun Hoong, however, did not attend the awards as she is currently in Japan for the second leg of the Diving World Series.