Malaysia aquatics federation learns its lesson from Doha failure

Malaysia was represented in women’s diving at Tokyo Olympics. However, none qualified for the 2024 Olympics that will be held in Paris starting July. — Photo: AFP

THE Malaysian Swimming Federation (MSF) hopes to bolster its coaching arm and address the dwindling diving talent by implementing an eight-year blueprint and scoring system among athletes.

This comes after the MSF had to face the reality that not a single female diver made the cut for the Paris 2024 Olympics during the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, in early February.

The poor performances from mainstays like Datuk Pandelela Rinong and Nur Dhabitah Sabri marked the first time in 24 years that Malaysia will not have female divers at the Olympic Games, breaking a streak that had been consistent since Sydney 2000.

Pandelela missed out on the Paris 2024 ticket in the 10m platform individual event, finishing 29th out of 46 divers and 204.05 points behind world champion Chen Yuxi’s 435.20.

Partnering Dhabitah in the synchronised 10m platform event, they finished 12th out of 16, far away from the top four qualification spots.

Dhabitah also failed to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics after being eliminated in the qualification round for the 3m springboard individual event, finishing 24th out of 52 competitors.

Wendy Ng Yan Yee endured a similar fate, finishing 38th in the same event.

The pair of Nur Dhabitah and Wendy also missed out on a slot after finishing ninth in the women’s synchronised 3m springboard event.

In response, the MSF took lessons from its “post-mortem” and decided to implement a scoring system as well as strengthen its coaching with an action plan.

Bryan says the team scoring system aims to foster healthy competition among divers.Bryan says the team scoring system aims to foster healthy competition among divers.

MSF technical director Bryan Nickson Lomas said the national diving team scoring system aimed to foster healthy competition between senior divers and newcomers.

He said the scoring system had to be introduced sooner than planned, as a measure to address the shortage of emerging divers.

He explained that through this scoring system, there would be no discrimination in selection because every athlete, whether a podium (senior) level or a newcomer, must meet the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) set by MSF to qualify for representing Malaysia internationally.

“With the scoring system, podium athletes and newcomers will compete among themselves, and only the best will represent the country in any competition,” said Bryan, a former Olympian who recently took up the role in MSF.

“They (podium athletes and newcomers) need to achieve the Minimum Qualification Score (MQS) and only those who meet or exceed the set score can represent the country.

“The failure in Doha has forced us to expedite the implementation of the scoring system.

“It was supposed to be implemented after the Olympics, to give athletes more time to understand and prepare for it,” he told Majoriti, Star Media Group’s Malay news portal, when met at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.

Three domestic competitions targeted for the implementation of this system are the Malaysia Open Diving Championships, the Malaysia Invitational Age Group (MIAG) and the national selection.

“This system also helps prevent the same athletes from representing the country internationally,” said Bryan.

“Athletes have to go through three competitions to accumulate points.

“If they surpass the target after participating in two competitions, it completes the requirements for them to represent the country.

“Through the scoring system, we can observe the performance of newcomers and podium athletes competing to secure a spot to represent the country,” he said.

He added that at the initial stage, scores for podium athletes and newcomers will be different.

Bryan revealed that the timeframe to produce quality divers based on the incoming implementations was expected to be between four and six years.

On the eight-year plan, he said that one of the main aims was to increase the number of coaches, upgrade local coaches, improve programmes like motivational camps and implement aspects of sports science like nutrition, physiotherapy and psychology.

“The Blueprint has been approved by National Sports Council (MSN).

“Last year, the diving camp only had three coaches to manage 13 podium athletes, whereas the backup group consisted of 11 individuals with only one coach allocated by MSN.”

The number, he said, had now increased to 15 backups and three coaches.

Bryan added that this was especially important to have fresh talents to continue the legacy of diving, considering the age of senior athletes like Pandalela and Nur Dhabitah.

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Malaysian Swimming Federation , Diving ,


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