PETALING JAYA: Missing the Olympic Games mark is painful but diver Chew Yiwei is taking it all in his stride.
In fact, the 25-year-old believes the fall at the recent World Cup in Tokyo will only spur him to rise even higher – as he sets his sight in the next two majors – SEA Games in Vietnam in November and the Asian Games in China next year.
The 2018 Asian Games bronze medallist Yiwei had hoped to be the torch bearer for the Malaysian men divers at the Tokyo Games in July but he did not make the cut in the 3m springboard individual (did not qualify for the final) during last week’s final Olympics qualifying tournament in Japan.
He came close in the men’s 3m springboard synchro with Commonwealth Games champion Ooi Tze Liang and finished seventh in the final.
Yiwei, who took up diving since he was 13, admitted it was frustrating as he had put in a lot of hard work in training despite all the limitations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’m really disappointed to miss my Olympics debut, ” said Yiwei, a second year computer science student with Asia Pacific University.
Yiwei said if he could turn back time, he would not have taken a complete three-month break from training during the movement control order last year.
“I thought it was the best decision as I wanted to heal completely from the pain I used to have on my knee and shoulder... I thought a complete rest will help me come back stronger, ” he said.
“As I look back, I think, I should not have stopped training all together. I should have done some form of rehab.”
But looking forward, Yiwei is optimistic that he will only get better.
“I know none of the men divers qualified for the Olympics this year but it’s not because our standard has dropped. There have been good results in the past, ” he said.
“In 2018, I switched the height from 10m to 3m and went on to win a bronze medal at the Indonesia Asian Games... I was the first male diver in 18 years to win a medal.
“Tze Liang is the country’s first Commonwealth Games champion and he executes his dives with high-level of difficulties.
“The competition in diving is changing and other countries are improving, but of course, we have to step up, too. Defeats like this will only make us better.”
Will Yiwei make another attempt to qualify for the Olympics – in Paris in 2024?
“I don’t want to go for the Olympics if I’m just going to make up the numbers. I want to be really prepared for the next one. If I’m not, I would rather give the opportunity to a younger diver, ” he said.
“I’ll prepare for the SEA Games and the Asian Games next... aiming to improve, ” promised a determined Yiwei.
The Selangor-born diver’s last medal achievement was at the 2019 Philippines SEA Games where he partnered Tze Liang to win the men’s 3m springboard synchro gold medal.