PETALING JAYA: Former world champion diver Cheong Jun Hoong will be playing it safe in her bid to earn a third straight appearance at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Her coach Yang Zhuliang said Jun Hoong will be using the same set of dives that she used to gain a shock win over the Chinese divers in the 10m platform individual event at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary in 2017, when she takes part in the Diving World Cup meet in Tokyo next month.
The meet from April 18-23 will be the final Olympic qualifying event for diving and Jun Hoong needs to make the top-18 to achieve her mission.
Four years have passed since the historic golden win, which made Jun Hoong the first ever Malaysian world champion athlete in a aquatic sport, but Zhuliang believed her routines are still very much relevant.
“We do not have much time to train new routines because she had been out of action for a long time.
“There were also times when we could not train in the pool because of the movement control order, so I am only training Jun Hoong to polish up her current dive routines.
“If she executes her routines well, she should be able to qualify for the Olympics.
“It is the main priority now as the World Cup is the last Olympic qualifying chance.
“Her mission now is to qualify first.
“Don’t forget, this is only the first major competition in two years for her, ” said the former national coach, who was also in charge when Jun Hoong partnered Pandelela Rinong to take silver in the 10m platform synchro event at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Jun Hoong, however, is only focusing on the 10m platform individual this time as Pandelela and Mun Yee will combine for the 10m platform synchro for the World Cup challenge.
Jun Hoong underwent surgery on her knees in 2018 and has not competed since then.
She was hoping to make a comeback in April last year to secure the Olympics spot at the World Cup in Tokyo but then the meet was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Zhuliang was brought to Malaysia to guide Jun Hoong under the Road to Tokyo training camp in Bukit Jalil.
Four Malaysian divers have already made the Olympic cut for Tokyo so far. Pandelela and Mun Yee earned Malaysia the women’s 10m platform synchro spot while Wendy Ng Yan Yee and Nur Dhabitah Sabri secured the two spots in women’s 3m springboard individual.
Pandelela has also earned a spot in the women’s 10m platform individual event.