PETALING JAYA: Nur Dhabitah Sabri’s bronze display in the final leg of the Diving World Series in London ensured Malaysia finished with at least one medal for the season.
With just one gong to show, it means Malaysian diving has dropped to a new low.
No Malaysian made it to the top three overall standings at the end of five legs. This means there is much work to be done if our national divers hope to make an impact at the Tokyo Olympics which is only 14 months away.
At the last Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Cheong Jun Hoong and Pandelela Rinong combined to deliver a silver in the women’s 10m platform synchro event but they have not had the chance to shine this year.
Last year Jun Hoong-Pandelela won gold at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and also made history by winning a medal in all four legs of the Diving World Series.
But Jun Hoong is not expected to return to the pool anytime sooner than end of this year as she has yet to recover from knee operations.
Furthermore, Jun Hoong will not defend her women’s 10m platform individual title at the upcoming World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, in July.
Pandelela has yet to fully recover from a back strain and missed the last two legs of this year’s series in Kazan, Russia, and London.
The two-time Olympic medallist is, however, expected to recover to compete in the world meet where she will partner Dhabitah but it depends to be seen if she can replicate the success she achieved with Jun Hoong.
Diving coaches Christian Brooker and Li Rui have their work cut out to prepare the divers for the worlds as it is the first meet to offer tickets for the Tokyo Olympics.
It will be an uphill task to secure early Olympic slots in the synchro events as only the top three pairs make the cut from the world meet but it will be much easier in the individual events as the top 12 get in.
At the last world meet, Pandelela-Jun Hoong earned the quota slot when they snatched bronze in the women’s 10m platform synchro.
Pandelela and Wendy Ng Yan Yee went on to qualify early when both reached the final of the respective women’s 10m platform and 3m springboard individual events.
Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia secretary Mae Chen said the world meet will be the first focus of the year but it’s not the only one to offer Olympic spots.
“We also have other chances as we are hosting the Asian Diving Cup in September.
“It is the continental qualifying event for the Olympics. The final qualifying event will take place at the World Cup in Tokyo next April where more spots will be available.”
At the last Olympics, Malaysia were represented by six divers – Pandelela, Dhabitah, Wendy, Jun Hoong, Ooi Tze Liang and Ahmad Amsyar Azman.