PETALING JAYA: Former world diving champion Cheong Jun Hoong is at a career crossroads after missing out on a third straight Olympic Games appearance in Tokyo next month.
Governing body FINA’s decision to reduce the number of qualifiers from the top 18 to 12 after the conclusion of the Diving World Cup in Tokyo in May saw Jun Hoong having to scrap any plans to make a splash for Malaysia at the Olympics.
It is nothing but heartbreaking for the 31-year-old to hear the official confirmation from Malaysia Swimming that she did not succeed in winning the second slot for the women’s 10m platform individual alongside Pandelela Rinong.
Jun Hoong made a remarkable comeback after three years of absence due to knee surgeries when she topped the preliminaries at the World Cup to qualify for the top 18 semi-finals in first place.
But her long absence from competitions affected her progress as she finished 18th in the semi-finals.
Time is also not on her side and with the Olympics out of sight, Jun Hoong needs to consider whether to stick around for the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China or call time on her illustrious career.
Jun Hoong was non-committal as to her career options at this point.
“I had worked hard in my training sessions but there is nothing much I can do right now with the change of rules. I want to calm down first,” said the 2016 Rio Olympic silver medallist with Pandelela in the women’s 10m platform synchro.
Her coach Yang Zhuliang welcomed Youth and Sports Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican’s call to Jun Hoong to keep training towards the Hangzhou Asiad.
“She is not getting younger and it will not be easy, especially if you are a platform diver,” admitted Zhuliang.
“But the Asian Games is just one year away and it is not impossible if she is willing to go through the hard work like when she was preparing for the World Cup.
“My contract ends in September. I’ll wait for a decision by the National Sports Council on my status.
“I will discuss with them first before deciding on whether to go back to China or Australia,” added Zhuliang, who is an Australian permanent resident holder. Malaysia will be represented by Pandelela, Leong Mun Yee, Wendy Ng Yan Yee and Nur Dhabitah Sabri at the Olympics in Japan.