PETALING JAYA: Cheong Jun Hoong-Nur Dhabitah Sabri produced a gallant fightback to claim an Olympic spot in the women’s 3m springboard synchro at the Diving World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.
The Malaysian pair barely made it to the top-12 final, chalking 270.60 points in the preliminaries at Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre on Saturday night - squeezing past South Korea’s Kim Na-mi-Kim Su-ji (267.00) to the last available spot.
From then on, the Malaysian pair got their act together when it mattered most. They posted 301.50 points for their five-dive routine to finish fifth, enough to secure one of the four remaining tickets at stake for the event at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
China’s reigning world champions Wu Minxia-Shi Tingmao picked up the gold medal with 339.60 points.
In what was a repeat of the World Aquatics Championships podium in Kazan, Russia last year, Canada’s Jennifer Abel-Pamela Ware took the silver (312.27) while the bronze went to Australia’s Esther Qin-Samantha Mills (307.50).
Italy’s Tania Cagnotto-Francesca Dallape finished fourth (303.99). Joining the Italian and Malaysian pairings to complete the eight-nation cast at the Olympics are Britain’s Alicia Blagg-Rebecca Gallantree (299.28) and Germany’s Tina Punzel-Nora Subschinski (298.14).
Malaysia will thus be represented in both women’s synchro events at the Olympics. Jun Hoong partnered Pandelela Rinong to a superb silver in the women’s 10m platform synchro on Friday.
“I’m very happy for Jun Hoong-Dhabitah as they handled the pressure well,” said coach Yang Zhuliang.
“They made some mistakes in the morning but controlled their jumps better in the final.
“The margin is very close between a few countries and we will use the next few months to prepare before coming back for the Olympics,” he added.
There was more joy as Pandelela stormed to first spot in the preliminaries for the women’s 10m platform individual on Saturday.
Pandelela, the bronze medallist in Kazan, chalked 360.55 points to edge ahead of the 2013 world champion Si Yajie of China, who finished with 360.10 points. Her Chinese team-mate Ren Qian, the silver medallist in Kazan, was third with 353.10.
Women’s 3m springboard synchro final: 1. Wu Minxia-Shi Tingmao (Chn) 339.60, 2. Jennifer Abel-Pamela Ware (Can) 312.27, 3. Esther Qin-Samantha Mills (Aus) 307.50, 4. Tania Cagnotto-Francesca Dallape (Ita) 303.99, 5. Cheong Jun Hoong-Nur Dhabitah Sabri (Mas) 301.50.