Wendy Ng Yan Yee (right), seen here with her regular diving partner Cheong Jun Hoong, will have to give up her spot in the 3m springboard synchro to Pandelela Rinong at the Commonwealth Games in July. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: Reputation counts a lot in diving. And Malaysia are well-aware of that as they aim for a first-ever gold medal from the synchro discipline at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July.
As such, diver Wendy Ng Yan Yee will have to give up her place alongside regular partner Cheong Jun Hoong in the 3m springboard synchro event although their combination made a breakthrough at the recently-concluded fourth round of the Diving World Series in Moscow – and scoring above 300 points in the process.
The duo are also the SEA Games gold medallists but Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) secretary Edwin Chong said that Pandelela Rinong will still be the first choice to partner Jun Hoong in the Commonwealth Games.
“Pandelela is the most well known diver to the judges. She is already an Olympian and World Championship medallist.
“Pandelela has the reputation and this is very important as we will not be marked down.
“It’s like having Guo Jinjing in the China national team when it comes to the Olympics. No one is going to mark her scores down when she is diving,” he explained.
Pandelela-Jun Hoong competed together for the first time at the London Olympics in 2012 and also came close to pulling off a surprise at the World Championships in Barcelona last year.
Pandelela-Jun Hoong were lying third with one dive to go but they failed to hold on and eventually missed out on a medal to finish fifth.
“We’ve never won a gold in the synchro disciplines and there is the possibility of achieving it this time (in Glasgow).
“It’s never easy as we’ll be up against the Canadians and Australians as well as the British divers, who will be in action on home ground ... but our divers can win on a good day,” said Edwin.
Canadians Pamela Ware-Jennifer Abel are the favourites based on their bronze-medal finish at the world meet last year but, other than the Chinese, the rest of the world often finds it hard to attain near-perfect consistency.
Malaysia also have a bright chance in the women’s 10m platform synchro with Pandelela-Leong Mun Yee.
The duo took silver at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi four years ago and their current form suggests that they will be serious contenders in Glasgow alongside World Championships bronze medallists Meaghan Benfeito-Roseline Filion of Canada.
Pandelela-Mun Yee have won two silvers and one bronze from four rounds of the Diving World Series so far.
The only factor that could prevent Pandelela from competing in both the synchro events – other than her customary 10m platform individual – will be her physical condition.
“We have until the team manager’s meeting there to do any changes. Pandelela has a hectic schedule but we have no choice if we are talking about putting the best combination to fight for gold. But it will also depend on her condition at that time,” explained Edwin.
Malaysia won one gold, one silver and two bronzes from diving at the last Commonwealth Games.
Pandelela contributed two – gold in the 10m platform individual and a silver with Mun Yee in the platform synchro.
Bryan Nickson Lomas also chipped in with the two bronze medals – in the men’s 10m platform individual and with Yeoh Ken Nee in 3m springboard synchro. They have since retired.