PETALING JAYA: World platform champion Cheong Jun Hoong will skip the first two rounds but Malaysia still have plenty to look forward to with bigger representation in the Diving World Series this season.
This year’s Diving World Series will comprise five legs – Sagamihara, Japan (March 1-3), Beijing, China (March 7-9), Montreal, Canada (April 26-28), Kazan, Russia (May 10-12) and London, Britain (May 17-19).
The prestigious series is only for the top eight-ranked divers in the world, with seven Malaysians who had qualified.
Jun Hoong partnered Pandelela Rinong to clinch a historic gold medal in the women’s 10m platform synchro in the third leg of the series in Montreal, Canada, last year.
Jun Hoong-Pandelela, the Rio Olympic silver medallists in 2016 and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games champions last year, also bagged silver in the first leg in Beijing.
They also claimed two bronze medals in the second leg in Fuji, Japan, and the finale in Kazan.
However, Jun Hoong went for surgery on her left knee after pulling out of the Asian Games in Jakarta last August and is still going through the recovery process.
“Jun Hoong needs at least six months before she is able to return to pool training and we don’t want to risk her.
“She’s not going for the first two legs, that’s for sure. In her absence, Pandelela will partner either Leong Mun Yee or Nur Dhabitah Sabri. The new coach (Li Rui) who will be here by then, will decide on this after the training they’ve gone through,” said Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia secretary Mae Chen.
Apart from the three divers, Malaysia also earned the maximum slots in the women’s 3m springboard individual and synchro, men’s 10m platform synchro and mixed 10m platform synchro.
“Juniors Jellson Jabillin will compete with Hanis Nazirul Jaya Surya in the men’s 10m platform synchro while Mun Yee can partner Hanis for the mixed 10m platform synchro event.
“Dhabitah and Wendy Ng Yan Yee have also earned slots for the women’s 3m springboard individual.
“This is good news for Malaysia as we got more slots from FINA (governing body for aquatics).
“Despite all the problems with changes in the coaching structure last year, we managed to win a medal in every round of the series for the first time last year.
“We’re in the right direction as long as they focus on their game.”
Diving is one of the three sports that have athletes placed under Tier 1 of the new athlete training scheme.