Loh Zhiayi bagged a gold in the 10m platform individual and the 3m springboard synchro at the Pahang Sukma two years ago.
PETALING JAYA: Federal Territory (FT) are expecting to continue ruling the diving pool at the Perlis Sukma (Malaysia Games) when the competition kicks off next Wednesday.
At the Pahang Games two years ago, FT topped the medal tally for diving with three golds, three silvers and three bronzes from the 10 events contested, thanks to the emergence of talented youngsters Nur Dhabitah Sabri and Loh Zhiayi.
The pair turned the tables on favourites Perak, who had national team duo Kam Ling Kar and Jasmine Lai, denying them a clean sweep of all five golds in the women’s events.
Dhabitah and Zhiayi, now members of the national elite squad, then bagged a gold each in the 3m springboard and 10m platform individual respectively before teaming up to snatch another through the 3m springboard synchro.
But having made their debut and returned with medals from the Myanmar SEA Games last December, Dhabitah and Zhiayi will no longer be eligible to compete in more than two events each.
Dhabitah claimed a gold partnering Leong Mun Yee in the 10m platform synchro while Zhiayi finished second to Pandelela Rinong to take silver at the SEA Games.
Sukma’s rules state that medal winners from major multi-Games, except Olympics, can still take part as long as they are under 21, on the condition that they are restricted to a certain number of events (according to their respective sports).
For diving, the participation is limited to one for individual and one for team.
FT diving team manager Lee Keah Chang has no doubt his side will still be the team to beat, despite the limitation to the golden pair.
He, however, rues missing out on the services of SEA Games gold medallist Muhd Nazreen Abdullah and Muhd Danial Sabri, who have been ruled out by long-term injuries.
“The three golds won by them (Dhabitah and Zhiayi) in Kuantan are going nowhere,” said Keah Chang.
“We have targeted them to defend their respective titles. The challenge should come from the Perak girls again, but I have faith they will fend them off.
“We would have had another two potential golds, if Nazreen and Danial were competing.
“Nazreen could have won the platform gold as fellow national team-mate (Ooi) Tze Liang won’t be representing Penang as he will be in Canada for the World Series. Nazreen’s partnership with Danial would also have been a favourite in the synchro discipline.
“There is one up-and-coming young boy, (Hanis) Nazirul, who is just 13, but we are not expecting him to deliver right away.”