KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s new diving coach Li Rui (pic) is aware of the huge challenge ahead.
Li Rui, who previously coached in Canada for two years, was brought in on the recommendation of Podium Programme coach Zhang Yukun, who left the national team in January.
“The expectations are high as Malaysia have won medals at the last two Olympics and it is just over a year before the Tokyo Olympics,” said Li Rui.
“But I learnt how to cope with it when I was coaching back in China (province and national).
“The pressure to win medals is always there even when I was in the province.
“The most important thing now is to make the divers feel comfortable with me.
“I want to get to know them and also their lifestyles.”
The coach said it is important for him to capitalise on the divers’ strengths and work on their weaknesses before he can help increase their routines if necessary. “I’ve been involved in coaching for more than 20 years and I am optimistic I can help Malaysia maintain the good results achieved so far if everyone works as a team,” said Li Rui, who has coached Chinese divers such as Si Yajie and Qin Kai when they were younger and before they became world champions.
Li Rui, who is from the Shanxi province, started diving when he was only seven but had to retire at 17 because of damaged knee ligaments.
The 41-year-old will divide coaching duties with Australian Christian Brooker when it comes to the elite and back-up divers. Another Chinese coach Li Teng is taking care of the juniors.
The senior women divers are Cheong Jun Hoong, Leong Mun Yee, Pandelela Rinong, Wendy Ng Yan Yee and Nur Dhabitah Sabri while the men are Ooi Tze Liang, Chew Yiwei, Ahmad Amsyar Azman and Muhd Syafiq Puteh.
Pandelela won the Olympic bronze medal in the 10m platform individual in London in 2012.
She partnered Cheong Jun Hoong to win the Olympic silver medal in the 10m platform synchro in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
The biggest assignment for the divers will be at the World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea in July.
It is an Olympic qualifying event with the top three in synchro and the top 12 finalists for individual making the early cut to Tokyo.
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