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Wednesday January 23, 2013

Whole national diving squad to train in China for six weeks

Up for new challenges: Loh Zhiayi is one of the divers promoted to the elite squad at the start of the year. Up for new challenges: Loh Zhiayi is one of the divers promoted to the elite squad at the start of the year.

PETALING JAYA: The National Sports Council (NSC) have given the go-ahead for the entire national diving squad to be based in Dali, China, for six weeks.

Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM) secretary Edwin Chong was pleased with NSC’s decision.

“We will take all the elite squad divers to train in Dali for the new challenges this year,” added Edwin.

There are 16 divers in the elite squad, including four – Mohd Nazreen, Mohd Danial, Loh Zhiayi and Nor Dhabitah Sabri – who were promoted at the start of the year.

“The divers will probably be going before the Chinese New Year (Feb 10-11). The purpose of this training stint is to get the seniors and juniors to focus on learning their routines without any distractions.

“Over here, there are just too many distractions.

“We want the divers to learn new routines. It will be hard for them to be competitive if they are unable to come up with new routines.

“The juniors, especially, have a lot to catch up outside the country as they have yet to be comfortable with the more difficult dives.

“That is why we requested for NSC to send all the juniors and seniors to China as it is time for them to learn new things to get ready for the next Olympic cycle,” said Edwin.

Edwin added that there is a possibility Bryan Nickson Lomas will join the trip to China if he makes the cut for the FINA Diving World Series starting in March.

Bryan wanted to take a break this year to concentrate on his sports science studies at Universiti Malaya but he may get an invite to dive in the Diving World Series in the individual 10m platform event.

The Diving World Series is only for the top-eight ranked divers in the world and has been expanded to six legs from four previously.

Beijing hosts the opening round from March 15-17 and this will be followed by stops in Dubai, Edinburgh, Moscow and two in Mexico.

“The deadline has been extended to the end of this month and we will know whether he gets in or not. If he is going, then we have to discuss with him where he is competing. It will be better for him to join the team to train in China to prepare for the Diving World Series.”

There are two major events for the divers this year. They are the World University Games in Kazan, Russia, and the World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona. Both are being held in July.

Malaysia won a medal at the World Aquatics Championships for the first time when Pandelela Rinong and Leong Mun Yee bagged a bronze in the 10m synchro platform in Rome in 2009.

Pandelela has finished fifth twice in the women’s 10m platform individual final and there is hope she can improve on the showing this time after her historic exploits at the London Olympics last year.

The 19-year-old became the country’s youngest ever Olympic medal winner when she took a bronze in the women’s 10m platform.

Pandelela also bagged two silver medals at the last World University Games in Shenzhen in 2011. The two silvers – in individual and synchro platform with Mun Yee – were the only medals Malaysia won.

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