The 26-year-old has now placed himself on equal status with his former mentor after claiming his fourth straight SEA Games gold medal in the men’s 3m springboard individual at New Clark City Aquatic Center yesterday.
Malaysia went on to complete a clean sweep of all four golds in diving with Wendy Ng Yan Yee combining with Nur Dhabitah Sabri to win the women’s 3m springboard synchro final.
Tze Liang garnered 454.60 points while teammate Mohd Syafiq Puteh secured the silver for Malaysia as well with 402.50 points.
Singapore’s Mark Lee clinched the bronze with 325.50 points.
Tze Liang successfully took over the mantle of defending Malaysia’s winning reputation in the men’s 3m springboard by winning in Myanmar (2013).
He also triumphed in Singapore (2015) and Kuala Lympur (2017).
Former Olympic finalist Ken Nee was the former springboard specialist and won four straight titles in Philippines (2005), Thailand (2007), Laos (2009) and Indonesia (2011).
Earning the tag as the king of SEA Games men’s springboard diving may be something to brag about but the Penang-born Tze Liang, who has been diving for nearly 15 years, is aiming for something higher.
“The Olympics is what I am preparing for. I have been preparing for my dives for the Asian Diving Cup in KL (in September) but I didn’t get to qualify. I didn’t expect to be picked for the SEA Games in the first place but I was ready for it all along.
“The competition is not that strong at the SEA Games but I am happy to maintain my performance to secure the gold for Malaysia.
“It gives me the confidence to aim for Olympic qualification at the Diving World Cup in Japan next April.
“It’s my final chance to qualify for another Olympics,” said Tze Liang, whose gold yesterday was his second in New Clark City. He won the men’s 3m springboard synchro with Chew Yiwei on Friday.
Syafiq was happy with the silver as this is his first in the individual.
“I won in the synchro discipline (gold with Jasmine Lai in the mixed 3m springboard) in KL Games, so there is progress as I managed to score above 400 points,” said Syafiq.
Wendy also became a double gold medallist as she partnered Dhabitah to top the women’s 3m springboard synchro competition with 270.60 points.
Fong Kay Yian-Ashlee Tan of Singapore got the silver (228.06) ahead of Thai pair Surincha Booranapol-Ramanya Yanmongkon (208.14). Wendy won the 3m springboard individual on Friday.
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