PETALING JAYA: Two years of trying – and failing – to live up to the tag of being “the new Yeoh Ken Nee” has seen diver Chew Yiwei (pic) switching from springboard to the platform discipline.
The switch, done at the beginning of this year, has proved to be spot-on.
At last week’s Singapore’s leg of the World Diving Grand Prix, Yiwei stunned three-time Olympic gold medallist Huo Liang of China with his best-ever performance to date – chalking up 452.35 points en route to winning the silver medal. China’s Chen Aisen took the gold.
This was in contrast to his form when he was competing in the springboard event.
He was touted as the replacement for Olympian finalist Ken Nee when he bagged two springboard individual gold medals at the Kuantan Sukma in 2012.
The Klang-born lad also failed to impress in 2013 – particularly in the World Championships in Barcelona and the Myanmar SEA Games.
At the world meet, he could only manage 23rd spot in the 3m springboard, thus failing to make the top-18 cut for the semi-finals.
In Naypyitaw, he ended up with a bronze behind team-mate Ooi Tze Liang (gold) and Singapore’s Mark Lee (silver).
Thankfully, he had the courage to switch to the platform event.
“I had a good year in springboard in 2012 but, to compete at the top level, I needed to have higher DD (degree of difficulty) dives,” said Yiwei after a training session in preparation for the Malaysia World Diving Grand Prix.
“But my body was too light to execute those high DD dives perfectly. I could have stuck to low DD dives, but I won’t be good enough to challenge for podium.
“I went to the SEA Games last year with high DD dives but fared miserably.
“So, I told myself enough is enough and decided to switch to platform.
“I had to start all over again. All my hard work paid off when I won an unbelievable silver medal in Singapore last week.
“I feel reborn after beating a Chinese diver who is a multiple Olympic champion!”
Yiwei will have another shot at challenging China’s divers when he competes in the 10m platform individual at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil.
He will also partner Tze Liang in the platform synchro on Sunday.
The three-day Grand Prix will kick off with the men’s 3m springboard and women’s 10m platform.
Malaysia will be represented by Tze Liang and Ahmad Amsyar Azman in the springboard event.
London Olympics bronze medallist Pandelela Rinong will lead the charge in the platform discipline alongside Traisy Vivien and Loh Zhiayi.
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