Mae: Give Li Rui time to get divers back on track

  • Diving
  • Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Li Rui

PETALING JAYA: The Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) have called for frustrated parties to give Chinese coach Li Rui a chance.

The national diving team have been struggling to move forward since the departure of long-serving diving maestro Yang Zhuliang in late 2017.

Zhuliang was surprisingly not given an extension despite turning Malaysia into a force to be reckoned with and producing a world champion and Olympic medallists in Cheong Jun Hoong and Pandelela Rinong.

The Chinese coach’s methods were deemed to be “old school” while the then Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had blamed Zhuliang for a “culture and environment of fear” in the team.

Australian Chris Brooker was brought in but things did not improved in the past year.

Malaysia even lost their status as the Asia No. 2 behind China, finishing below South Korea in the medal tally at the Asian Games.

Under-fire Asum secretary Mae Chen, who has been re-elected for the third term on Sunday, said she has faith in Li Rui and urged the concerned parties to give him time to put the team back on track.

Li Rui was roped in March to replace compatriot Zhang Yukun, who is Zhuliang deputy since 2011.

“To be fair, the diving coach (Li Rui) had just joined us,” said Mae.

“We are currently trying to find the right platform and the right footing for the divers.

“There are some divers who feel that they are more suitable with Li Rui’s method and some prefer Christian’s, so we will look into that.”

Malaysia could only manage two medals in the first five months of the year – with Nur Dhabitah Sabri claiming bronze in the Kazan’s leg of the Diving World Series and Ooi Tze Liang-Chew Yiwei clinching bronze at the Canada Diving World Grand Prix.And this does not bode well as expectations are high on them to do well at the World Championships in Gwangju in July.

Besides having a gold and a bronze to defend, the team are expected to secure as many qualification tickets as possible to the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Only the top 12 individuals and top three synchro pairs will qualify early and the remaining spots will be up for grabs at the Diving World Cup in Tokyo next April.

Mae insists that Li Rui’s immediate task is to qualify a big team to Tokyo.

“With Li Rui’s here, hopefully he can actually do something,” said Mae.

“He has assured us that he will do his very best to retain the silver won at the last Olympics.

“But for now, he wants to try and help the divers qualify (early) at the world meet.”

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