PETALING JAYA: Singapore could derail Malaysia’s hopes of making a clean sweep of the 13 diving golds at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games from Aug 19-30.
The island republic has made inroads in diving since it appointed Australian Shannon Roy, the 3m springboard gold medallist at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, as head coach in January last year.
At last month’s World Aquatics Championships in Hungary, Ahmad Amsyar Azman barely finished ahead of Singapore’s Mark Lee in the men’s 3m springboard.
Amsyar, who took part in the Rio Olympics last year, was 44th (311.15) while Mark was one spot behind (295.65).
Ooi Tze Liang finished 30th for Malaysia with 382.95 points.
Amsyar also finished just a rung higher than Mark in the 1m springboard. The Malaysian was placed 30th with a 313 total while Mark finished 31st on 312.30. Tze Liang scored 325.70 points for 25th spot.
In the 3m springboard synchro, Tze Liang and Chew Yiwei have to watch out for Singapore’s Lee brothers. Tze Liang-Yiwei were eighth (384.69) while Mark-Timothy finished 17th (335.52) in Budapest.
National coach Yang Zhuliang believes Singapore will give Malaysia a strong challenge in some events, especially in the men’s category.
“Singapore did well at the 2015 Singapore Games by finishing second behind us. They won a few medals (three silvers and four bronzes) although we swept all the golds.
“But it’s not going to be easy this time. Singapore also have Chinese coaches and did well to win five medals (one silver and four bronzes) at the Asian Diving Cup in Macau in June.
“We will try to win all the golds. But I’m concerned with our men’s team as we only have three seniors (Amsyar, Tze Liang and Yiwei). I have to field a number of debutants as there are more events at these Games.”
Only eight events were contested in Singapore. The five additional events are the 1m springboard for men and women; 3m springboard and 10m platform mixed synchro and the team event.
The Games-bound squad, headed by newly-crowned world champion Cheong Jun Hoong, are in their final phase of training in Guangzhou, China. They will return home on Aug 18.