SEPANG: Moments after touching down here, newly-crowned world diving champion Cheong Jun Hoong declared that she aims to “keep winning”.
Saying that her feat in clinching the 10m platform title at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest last Wednesday was now “history”, the 27-year-old said she was ready to start all over again.
“My victory in Budapest will count for nothing. It’s in the past,” she said. “Being champion once doesn’t mean you are the winner forever.
“It will take a lot more hard work to become a champion again. It’s back to zero but I hope to continue winning,’’ she told a press conference after returning to a hero’s welcome yesterday at the KL International Airport.
Jun Hoong, a springboard specialist, was entered for the platform individual event because she was undergoing rehabilitation for a back injury. Platform diving does not put as much stress on the joints and back as the springboard.
The switch in events worked wonders when the unranked Jun Hoong notched a sensational upset against the world No. 1 and No. 2 divers, China’s Si Yajie and Ren Qian, for the gold medal, making her way up from fourth in the first dive to champion just before the final dive.
Jun Hoong also hinted that she may continue with the platform discipline, given her circumstances.
“It’s going to be difficult for me to recover 100%,” she said.
Jui Hoong is not entirely unfamiliar with diving from the 10m platform. Since 2014, she has regularly partnered either Pandelela Rinong or Leong Mun Yee in platform synchro events and earned multiple podium finishes on the international stage.
With Pandelela, she claimed the country’s first silver in diving at the Rio Olympics last year before going on to win a record-equalling bronze at the Budapest world meet last week.
Yesterday, Jun Hoong returned home to a rousing reception from sports fans and top officials, including Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, at KLIA.
Also present were her family members – father Cheong Sun Meng, mother Leow Lai Kun and sisters Jun Nie and Jun Yeng.
Jun Hoong was clearly touched by the reception.
“I want to thank everyone for coming today. Your presence really means so much to me,” she said, close to tears.
At the airport, Jun Hoong was also inducted into the Malaysia Book of Records for her achievement.
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