SINGAPORE: He may not be good at school. But Ooi Tze Liang taught his opponents a thing or two at the Singapore SEA Games.
They are still some ways behind in diving at the SEA Games.
The 21 year-old from Penang was the undisputed star performer with four personal gold medals after the diving competition ended at the OCBC Aquatics Centre on Tuesday.
His fourth and last gold medal came in the men’s 3m springboard synchro - partnering Ahmad Amsyar Azman. They won the event with 409.56 points.
Singaporean siblings Timothy and Mark Lee led after the first two dives but could not keep pace with the Malaysians and had to settle for silver with 381.78 points.
Later that day, Malaysian diving queen Pandelela Rinong retained her 10m platform individual title with 353.00 points to hand Malaysia a grand sweep of all eight gold medals at stake. Youth Olympics silver medallist Loh Zhiayi contributed silver with 305.25 points.
Tze Liang had a relaxed approach to the last day of his gruelling four-event programme in Singapore. He was making a bid to improve on his three gold-one silver haul from Myanmar two years ago.
“Winning the 10m platform individual title (on Monday) was the turning point. I was more calm after that as the 10m platform individual was the one I missed in Myanmar,” said the double Asian Games silver medallist, who is set to receive RM50,000 under the NSC incentive programme.
“We had to focus. One big mistake and we could have lost it, so we didn’t know if we were leading or not,” added Tze Liang, who will now shift his focus to the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, next month where he is determined to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
“My target is Rio next year but to be there, I have to do well at the World Championships.”
The top 12 finalists for the individual and top three for synchro in Kazan will qualify for the Olympics.
The drive and determination he exhibits today is a drastic change from when he first started diving.
“I don’t really like studying and my father asked me whether I want to try out a sport called diving,” recalled Tze Liang, who also won a Commonwealth Games gold last year in the 3m springboard individual event.
“I did not know anything about it at that time. I was not good in my studies. In fact, I did not like going to school and I later decided to focus on sports.
“Diving is my work now and the team trains eight hours a day, six days a week.
“Training is tough but it’s the only way I can get a result like this,” added Tze Liang, who partnered Chew Yiwei to win the 10m platform synchro on Saturday.
Malaysia’s final diving haul is eight golds and three silvers.