PETALING JAYA: Veteran diver Leong Mun Yee will have to wait until next year to learn if she can become the first Malaysian to make a fifth Olympic appearance.
The Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) are keeping their options open as they want the “best and strongest” pair to carry the nation’s hopes in the women’s 10m platform synchro event at the Tokyo Olympics in August next year.
Malaysia will be aiming to at least defend the silver medal won by Pandelela Rinong-Cheong Jun Hoong at the last Olympics in Rio de Janeiro three years ago.
Despite playing her part to secure the early ticket through a runner-up finish at the World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, last Sunday, the 34-year-old Mun Yee is not guaranteed of a start in Tokyo.
The quota obtained by the athletes are for the nation, not themselves.
Asum honorary secretary Mae Chen said the team will continue to assess the performance of other members in the women’s platform department for the next 10 months before deciding on who deserves to go.
World champion Jun Hoong and youngster Kimberly Bong, who are both currently injured, are the other options and so is the versatile Nur Dhabitah Sabri, who can also dive in both the springboard and platform disciplines.
“We are very happy for Mun Yee but we still have lots of work to do after this,” said Mae.
“The best and strongest pair will dive this event at the Olympics.”
With Pandelela having secured another quota in the women’s 10m platform individual after making the top 12-cut from yesterday’s semi-finals at the world meet, Mae plans to let Jun Hoong and Kimberly prove their worth in next year’s Diving World Cup in Tokyo in April next year to grab the second ticket.
A nation can qualify a maximum of two divers in the individual event.
“We still have Kimberly and Jun Hoong, whom we will field in the World Cup to have more divers qualify for Tokyo,” she added.
Mun Yee is desperate to make a record-breaking fifth Olympic appearance after losing her spot to Jun Hoong at the Rio Games three years ago.
She has since fallen down the pecking order and was not considered the first option for the women’s platform synchro event.
But Mun Yee showed glimpses of what she is still capable of by teaming up superbly with Pandelela to clinch their third world meet medal, which happened to be a career-best silver.
What’s more remarkable was that Mun Yee can still perform at the highest level despite her age.
It’s worth noting that the Chinese winners Lu Wei, 13, and Zhang Jiaqi, 15, are still younger than Mun Yee by six years with their combined age.
Mun Yee is now tied with shuttler Lee Chong Wei and sailor Kevin Lim with four Olympic appearances so far.