PETALING JAYA: For a top-class athlete, it takes a herculean effort to return to the same form after a long period of inactivity due to injuries.
And Malaysian diving world champion Cheong Jun Hoong is no exception.
Jun Hoong, who has been out of action for more than a year after her knee surgery in 2018, is not a quitter and she is determined to show that she is still relevant to the Malaysian diving team.
Jun Hoong, who won the 10m platform at the world meet in 2017, broke her silence for the first time since she left for training in China in November.
She is determined to give it another shot at another Olympic appearance.
The National Sports Council (NSC) have put up a special funding plan for the 29-year-old diver to be reunited with his former coach Yang Zhuliang with the aim of preparing her to qualify and hopefully, fight for a podium spot at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I’ve not given up on the Olympics. Training is okay but I would like to take it one step at a time, ” she said.
“I need to take care of my injuries at the same time as well.
“I would like to appreciate this chance given by the Youth and Sports Ministry and National Sports Council with gratitude, ” said Jun Hoong, who partnered Pandelela Rinong to claim silver in the women’s 10m platform synchro at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Jun Hoong, who was on her own recovering and training after her knee surgery, is targeting a return to competition at the Diving World Cup in Tokyo in April.
The Diving World Cup is the final Olympic qualification event and Jun Hoong has to get into the top 18 in the individual event.
Zhuliang said a lot of work needed to be done to get Jun Hoong ready for pool training in Beijing.
“Jun Hoong will be with me until the middle of this month and then NSC will decide on her progress, ” he said.
“I had to work on her balance and clearance of her dives from scratch again.
“I put her to practise on the 3m, 5m and 7m platforms since she arrived.
“It was dangerous for her to jump from the 10m platform straight away as she has not plunged from this height for so long.
“If her fitness is okay, we will try her out for the 10m platform this week.
“I want to help her dive at the Olympics and get a medal for Malaysia.
“This is why I agreed to help her recover back her dives, ” said the Chinese coach, who left at the end of 2017 after his contract was not renewed following controversies in the national team.
So far, four divers have qualified for the Tokyo 2020 in the women’s 3m springboard individual (Wendy Ng and Nur Dhabitah Sabri), 10m platform individual (Pandelela) and synchro (Pandelela-Leong Mun Yee).
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