PETALING JAYA: It’s going to be a nail-biting wait for diver Cheong Jun Hoong for the next few weeks as her place in the Tokyo Olympics is not confirmed yet.
Governing body FINA are now allocating 12 Olympic quota slots for the individual event from the just concluded Diving World Cup in Tokyo instead of 18 as proposed in drafting the qualification rules for Tokyo Olympics.
This was made known in an e-mail to Malaysia Swimming (MS) recently on the qualification status of divers for the Tokyo Olympics.
If this is the case, it could potentially dash Jun Hoong’s dream of making a third straight Olympics appearance in Tokyo in July as the second Malaysian diver in the women’s 10m platform individual behind Pandelela Rinong.
Jun Hoong made a spectacular comeback to competition in three years since going for knee surgeries to finish first in the 10m platform individual preliminary round.
However, her lack of competition fitness hindered her from clinching a spot in the top-12 final as she finished last in the field of 18 divers in the semi-finals the next day.
Pandelela brought joy to the nation by winning the 10m platform individual final contest to become the first Malaysian diver to take gold in the Diving World Cup.
Pandelela’s place in the Olympics was already assured as she was among the top 12 finalists at the World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, two years ago. Pandelela finished fifth in the final in Gwangju.
Jun Hoong had spent the past one year training under former national coach Yang Zhuliang to regain her form and confidence to dive from the 10m platform height.
In the midst of the confusion, National Sports Council (NSC) director general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail is proposing that Jun Hoong be named as the second Malaysian entry for the women’s 10m platform individual while waiting for FINA to finalise the final entries for the Tokyo Olympics diving competition after June 21.
MS secretary Mae Chen said they were keeping their fingers crossed that Jun Hoong and also Mohd Syafiq Puteh would make the Tokyo Olympics contingent.
Syafiq finished 23rd in the men’s 3m springboard individual competition at the World Cup and he may get in if there are additional slots freed up by countries deciding not to take up the quota earned earlier.
“We will do everything we can to get Jun Hoong and Syafiq to the Olympics.
“FINA have stated that up to 18 divers can qualify for the individual event but it now depends on how many slots are re-allocated.
“We have to wait for FINA to confirm the entries. Let’s keep our fingers crossed they will make it, ” said Mae.
The divers already confirmed for the Olympics are Pandelela, Leong Mun Yee, Wendy Ng Yan Yee and Nur Dhabitah Sabri.