PETALING JAYA: The thought of training without any competition for months is not a big deal for veteran diver Leong Mun Yee as she gets ready for an Olympic encore in Tokyo next year.
She is more concerned about avoiding any injury as that will wreck her dream to realise what no Malaysian athlete has achieved – to become the first to make five appearances at the Olympics.
Mun Yee has taken part in Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012. However, she was not picked for the Rio de Janeiro edition in 2016.
With four Olympic appearances, Mun Yee is 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 Rinong and track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang.
The 35-year-old Mun Yee, who has represented the country for more than two decades, said the biggest worry is picking up a big injury.
“From my experience, the most painful thing is injury and not being able to perform well.
“I need to work hard towards avoiding any big injury from now to next year.
“I experienced my darkest moment when I got myself injured. I wanted to train but I could not and needed a lot of motivation to get going again, ” said Mun Yee, who draws support from family, coaches and friends.
In all her years of involvement in the sport, it goes without saying that the current situation is unique in that she will need to draw on her inner strength to keep herself motivated for another year.
The Olympics has been moved to next year because of the Covid-19 pandemic and it is all about staying in great physical shape as Malaysia has already secured one of the three early quota slots for the women’s 10m platform synchro event.
Mun Yee partnered Pandelela Rinong to win silver at the World Aquatics Cham-
pionships in Gwangju, South Korea, last year to qualify early for the Olympics without needing to wait until the Diving World Cup meet.
The Diving World Cup, also delayed till next February, will be the final Olympic qualifying event with four more slots to be decided.
“It is an extraordinary situation. We only had one competition earlier this year.
“The coach already discussed with us the possibilities and we are just focusing more on basic training skills and maintaining fitness through gym work, ” said Mun Yee, who has postponed her Masters studies in Mass Communications at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) to give priority to her Olympic preparations.