PETALING JAYA: Malaysia are heading into troubled waters ahead of the next Asian Games in Hang–zhou if the performance of South Korean and Japanese divers are of any indication at the just concluded World Cup in Tokyo.
Forget about beating hosts China in their own backyard in 2022 as Malaysia may even find it hard to fight for the lesser medals judging from the way things are going.
Malaysia used to boast that they are the second best team in Asia behind China when it comes to diving but the recent outing in Tokyo has clearly indicated otherwise.
From having only one diver Woo Ha-ram to qualify for the last Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, South Korea will now be sending almost a full team for the men’s competition after claiming five out of the six available quota slots.
Kim Yeong-taek finished 15th in the men’s 10m platform individual to join Ha-ram in the Olympics. Ha-ram had finished an impressive fourth to qualify early at the world championships in his home country in 2019.
Kim Yeong-nam will also join Ha-ram in the men’s 3m springboard individual after finishing 14th to ensure South Korea would have the maximum representation in the individual events.
And thanks to Ha-ram-Yeong-nam for finishing fifth. South Korea will also take part in the men’s 10m platform snychro for the first time,
The women used to be weak but that has changed too with South Korea earning one slot each for the 3m springboard and 10m platform individual events.
That South Korea managed to win a total of seven slots only showed how low Malaysia have sank in diving compared to the time when Chinese coach Yang Zhuliang was still in charge.
It was at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games when the Malaysian diving team won four silvers and five bronzes, a feat that is unlikely to be repeated for a long time.
Even Japan made tremendous improvement by managing to qualify on merit in the individual events.
Altogether, Japan will compete in their home Olympics with pride with 10 quota slots in the bag and one of their main stars will be 14-year-old Rikuto Tamai (men’s 10m platform individual).
He was too young to compete in the last world meet in Gwangju in 2019 but he won the national title when he was only 12.
It will not augur well for Malaysia if the Koreans and Japanese continue to make strong progress in the next two years.
At the last Asian Games in Indonesia, the Malaysian diving team contributed one silver and three bronze medals to rank second behind South Korea, who had two silvers and three bronzes to show.