Malaysian diver Loh Zhiayi in action in the Youth Olympics in Nanjing. - BERNAMA
PETALING JAYA: Pandelela Rinong first made her name with two silver medals in the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010 before going on to bag a Commonwealth Games gold in India and an Olympic bronze in London two years later.
Young diver Loh Zhiayi is now trying to follow in Pandelela’s footsteps, having earned the right to join her illustrious team-mate as the two Malaysian representatives in the 10m platform individual at the Incheon Asian Games next month.
The 17-year-old from Taiping claimed a silver in the 10m platform individual at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing on Saturday to become a double medallist with her bronze in the 3m springboard individual on Monday.
That was enough for head coach Yang Zhuliang to put his faith in the youngster to see action at the Asian Games.
”Zhiayi raised her degree of difficulties before the Youth Olympics ... we expected her to get one medal. But two is a surprise considering that she was only accepted for the 3m springboard when another diver pulled out. She worked hard for the success.
”The Asian Games is a higher challenge but I see a good future for her if she uses the opportunity. She will be an asset for the country as she grows,” said Zhuliang, who added that Zhiayi will not head home but join the diving squad for training in Guangzhou leading to the Asiad.
The Incheon-bound team have been training in Guangzhou for three days and will remain there for the next two weeks.
Malaysia’s Cheam June Wei and Mohd Zarif Zolkepeli also won gold (badminton) and silver (recurve archery) in the mixed team events earlier but it does not count towards the country’s medal tally at the Youth Olympics.
Heading the diving squad for Incheon is Glasgow Commonwealth Games springboard champion Ooi Tze Liang, Ahmad Amsyar and Chew Yiwei for men while Leong Mun Yee, Wendy Ng Yan Yee, Cheong Jun Hoong, and Nur Dhabitah Sabri complete the women’s line-up.
At the last Games in Guangzhou, Malaysia bagged four silvers and five bronzes to finish second behind powerhouse China.