MOHD Syafiq Puteh and Gabriel Gilbert Daim only had about a month to work on their combination for the Commonwealth Games.
But boy, what a short time can produce!
The duo were in their element as they delivered the first diving medal for Malaysia in the Games.
Their performance brought smiles to the diving camp after favourite Pandelela Rinong finished out of the medals in the women’s 10m platform individual on Thursday.
Syafiq-Gabriel came good in their last two dives when they scored 67.50 and 66.60 points respectively to secure a prized silver in the 3m springboard synchro final at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre.
The two tidy attempts saw them finishing with 376.77 points ahead of Australia’s Li Shizin-Samuel Fricker, who settled for bronze with 374.52 points.
England’s Anthony Harding-Jack Laugher, who had the highest difficulties in the field, were in a class of their own as they led from start to finish to claim gold with a runaway 438.33 points.
The silver was a big achievement as it was the first medal won in the men’s competition since Ooi Tze Liang splashed to gold (3m springboard individual) and silver (10m platform individual) in the 2014 Glasgow edition.
It’s not the first Commonwealth Games outing for both though as they were placed seventh at the last quadrennial Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
“I really did not expect this. I’m still shaking my head but I guess we did well when it mattered,” said Syafiq.
“We were not expected to fight for a medal as we hardly trained. Usually Ooi Tze Liang-Chew Yiwei will dive in the event.
“But there was a slot open for us as the Games rules allow for a country to field up to two pairs for synchro events.
“I am delighted to win my first Games medal. I did not expect this as I was actually aiming for the mixed 3m springboard synchro (with Nur Dhabitah Sabri) later,” said Syafiq.
It was heartbreak for the more experienced Tze Liang-Chew Yi Wei as their hopes of a medal faded after only scoring 40.59 in their fourth dive.
The pair, who were second with two dives to go, finished fifth with 366.09 points.
In women’s 1m springboard individual, Ong Ker Ying and Kimberly Bong qualified for the top 12 final after finishing 10th (207.50) and 12th (204.75) respectively in the preliminaries.