KUALA LUMPUR: Diver Cheong Jun Hoong will be the only Malaysian athlete competing in three events at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, but head coach Yang Zhuliang is confident she will be up to the task.
In fact, Zhuliang is confident that Jun Hoong and her partner Pandelela Rinong can win the country’s first Olympic medal in synchronised diving.
Jun Hoong will combine with youngster Nur Dhabitah Sabri in the women’s 3m springboard synchro event, which takes place on Aug 7.
But it is in the 10m platform synchro event, on Aug 9, that Jun Hoong and Pandelela will be looking to make history for the nation.
Jun Hoong’s final event is the 3m springboard individual preliminary on Aug 12.
Veteran Leong Mun Yee was Pandelela’s regular partner and they won two bronze medals at the World Aquatics Championships in Rome (2009) and Barcelona (2013).
However, Jun Hoong’s silver medal performance with Pandelela at the Diving World Cup in Rio in February convinced Zhuliang to put his money on them.
“Jun Hoong-Pandelela have been stable in training in China so far. Their performance level in the 10m platform synchro is high and, if they don’t make any mistakes during competition, getting a medal is no problem.
“We have a better chance in the 10m platform synchro. I think the fight for the medals will be between Malaysia, Canada, North Korea, Australia and, of course, China.”
The Rio bound divers returned home three days ago – after a month-long training stint in Guangzhou – to sort out their visas.
They will fly back to China on Friday for the final phase of training. Malaysia will compete in six out of the eight diving events in Rio.
In London fours ago, Pandelela became the country’s first-ever female Olympic medallist when she took the bronze in the 10m platform individual.
THE DIVING TEAM
3m springboard individual: Ahmad Amsyar Azman.
10m platform individiual: Ooi Tze Liang.
3m springboard individual: Wendy Ng Yan Yee, Cheong Jun Hoong.
10m platform individual: Pandelela Rinong, Nur Dhabitah Sabri.
3m springboard synchro: Cheong Jun Hoong-Nur Dhabitah Sabri.
10m platform synchro: Cheong Jun Hoong-Pandelela Rinong.