PETALING JAYA: After 25 years in the business, diver Leong Mun Yee is ready to face what may be the biggest challenge of her sporting career – to be the first Malaysian athlete to compete in five Olympics.
Mun Yee was one of the pioneer divers for the national team when the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia started to focus on diving in 1995 to prepare for the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games three years later. She was only 13 when she took part in the Games.
Now, 25 years on, she is still going strong. Mun Yee partnered Pandelela Rinong to claim a silver medal for Malaysia in the women’s 10m platform synchro event at the World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, in July.
The silver medal placing gave the nation an early quota slot for the Tokyo Olympics. And for the Ipoh-born diver, there is no prize for guessing what her New Year wish is.
“I didn’t expect to last so long but I just kept going as I can’t imagine what my life will be without sports.
“It’s going to be very special to go for my fifth Olympics as nobody has done it before.
“Hopefully, I can get a medal too as the Olympics is the only one I have yet to win, ” said Mun Yee, who added that the motivation to win the elusive Olympic medal was what kept her going.
Mun Yee has competed in Sydney (2000), Athens (2004), Beijing (2008) and London (2012). She was not picked for the Rio de Janeiro edition in 2016.
Coach Yang Zhuliang opted for Pandelela to partner Cheong Jun Hoong and the duo went on to claim silver in the women’s 10m platform synchro.
“I failed to make it to Rio in 2016 but I have no intention of giving up although age is catching up. I have to push myself harder in each training session, but it’s worth it.
“From now until August, my focus is on my training and health.
“I hope to stay injury free and to give a good performance in the run-up competitions before the Olympics, ” said Mun Yee, who already has three world championships medals in her collection.
With four Olympic appearances, Mun Yee is now a member of a very exclusive club comprising sailor Kevin Lim and shuttler Lee Chong Wei.
Tokyo will see two more new four-time Olympians in Pandelela and track cyclist Azizul Hasni Awang.
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