PETALING JAYA: Leong Mun Yee, the national team’s most experienced diver, is certain to miss the Olympics in August.
The 31-year-old is expected to make way for Cheong Jun Hoong to partner Pandelela Rinong in the women’s 10m platform synchro as head coach Yang Zhuliang believes it will give Malaysia a better chance of winning an Olympic medal.
Mun Yee partnered Pandelela, 23, to win a bronze in the final leg of the Diving World Series in Kazan, Russia, on Friday. It was the duo’s second bronze after triumphing in the opening leg in Beijing, China, last month.
The pair finished fourth in the second leg in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, last month and in Windsor, Canada, earlier this month.
Despite having won two bronzes with Pandelela at the 2009 and 2013 World Championships, Mun Yee’s hopes of making a fifth Olympic appearance is not expected to materialise.
Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM) secretary Mae Chen said they would pick the pair based on Zhuliang’s assessment.
“And Zhuliang believes that Jun Hoong-Pandelela form a stronger pair.
“Mun Yee has not been training much with Pandelela. You can see their performances in the World Series.
“Zhuliang was happy with Jun Hoong-Pandelela’s performance when they won a silver at the World Cup (in February this year) to earn an Olympic spot for the country.
“They were consistent throughout the preliminaries and final. Mun Yee will probably continue until the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games next year. But for the Olympics, we need to send the strongest pair to fight for a medal.
“Expectations are high as we have done well in the 10m platform synchro over the last few years,” added Mae.
Malaysia will be competing in six out of eight events in Rio.
The divers will now proceed from Kazan to Guangzhou, China, for centralised training.
In London four years ago, diving became only the second sport to contribute an Olympic medal after Pandelela dove to a bronze in the 10m platform individual.