Cheong Jun Hoong, seen here in the women's 3m springboard diving event in the 15th FINA World Championships in Barcelona last year, will team up with Wendy Ng Yan Yee in the syncro event of the same discipline at the Diving World Series in Beijing on Friday. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: Olympic bronze medallist Pandelela Rinong and five other Malaysian divers will be looking to renew their rivalry with the world’s best when the Diving World Series gets under way in Beijing on Friday.
The series, which is only for the top eight ranked divers in individual and synchro disciplines, has been expanded from five to six legs this year.
Subsequent stops will be Dubai (March 20-22), London (April 25-27), Moscow (May 2-4), Windsor, Canada (May 30-June 1) and Monterrey, Mexico (June 6-8).
Pandelela is the only diver to qualify for an individual event – the women’s 10m platform, where she will be hoping for a podium finish this weekend.
China will not have double Olympic champion Chen Ruolin for the opening leg. Instead, their hopes rest on Liu Huixia, the gold medal winner in platform synchro at the World Championships in Barcelona last year.
Others expected to contend strongly for medals are Ukraine’s Yulia Prokopchuk – the bronze medallist at the 2012 Olympics in London, Britain’s Sarah Barrow, Canada’s Roseline Filion, and Mexico’s Alejandra Orozco, the 2012 Olympic silver medallist in platform synchro.
The Malaysians travelled to Beijing two days ago after completing training at their base in Guangzhou.
Pandelela, a 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, will be partnering seasoned campaigner Leong Mun Yee for the platform synchro.
National coach Yang Zhuliang is hoping for a good show from the duo who qualified for the prestigious series this year.
Pandelela-Mun Yee were bronze medallists in the event at the world meet in Barcelona last year. They took three silvers and one bronze from the five legs of the series.
“Pandelela finished second in the overall standings for individual platform. She partnered Mun Yee to finish second in the overall standings for synchro platform as well.
“My hope is for them to retain their positions. They have improved from the one-month training in Guangzhou since Chinese New Year and I am confident they can narrow the gap with our Chinese rivals.
“But the fight is close, especially for synchro and I won’t pressure them a lot at this stage as this is only the first competition for the seniors,” he said.
Apart from Pandelela and Mun Yee, Malaysia will also be hoping for Cheong Jun Hoong-Wendy Ng Yan Yee to do well in the women’s 3m springboard synchro event.
The debutants last year showed their potential on the world stage by contributing three bronze medals in the 3m springboard synchro in Edinburgh, Moscow and Guadalajara.
Ooi Tze Liang-Ahmad Amsyar will compete in the men’s 3m springboard synchro but they will find it hard to make any headway in the world class field.
Tze Liang-Amsyar recorded an impressive sixth place finish in the final at the world meet in Barcelona last year.