KUALA LUMPUR: Young diver Zibeon Uzza has been given a break of his lifetime. The 14-year-old Sarawakian will join seniors Leong Mun Yee and Noraznizal Najib in the Malaysian team for the 10th FINA World Championships, which will be held in Barcelona from July 13-27.
Zibeon, who has no previous international experience, will compete in the three-metre springboard event. The meet is an Olympic qualifying event.
Rossharisham Roslan and Low Lap Bun were selected earlier for the championships but the duo, who were gold medallists in the 2001 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, were dropped for not attending training. They have also lost their place in the 2006 Asian Games programme.
Another two divers, Yeoh Ken Nee and Farah Begum, have decided to quit the team.
The Amateur Swmming Union of Malaysia's (Asum) secretary, Edwin Chong, said that they had wanted to include 13-year-old Sarawakian Brian Nickson in the team but he did not meet the eligibility age to compete in the world championships.
“Only divers aged 14 years and above can compete in the championships,” said Edwin.
Zibeon, who started diving at the age of nine, is all excited over his inclusion in the team.
“It is an opportunity of a lifetime to compete against the top divers in the world. I will gain good experience,” said Zibeon, who is of Iban descent.
He was with the seniors for a centralised training stint in China but he has yet to see action in senior international meets.
Zibeon won a silver and a bronze in Sukma (Malaysia Games) last year.
In the recent national schools (MSSM) championships in Shah Alam, he was the silver medallist in the one-metre springboard event.
Last week, in the first leg of the SportExcel junior circuit in Penang, Zibeon won two gold medals and a silver.
Besides Zibeon, the other divers in the 2006 Asian Games programme are Brian, Rosatimah Mohd, Gracie Junita Terry, Elizabeth Jimie, Cheong Jun Hoong, Naziratul Amirul Azmir, Mohd Salim Yunus, Terriena Lim Ah Jin, Khairul Safuan, James Sandayud and Ahmad Fakhri Khairuddin.
Coach Yang Zhuliang sees a very bright future for the current batch of juniors.
“They will need at least two years to come up and fight for medals in competitions.
“They must also have the discipline and commitment to follow the training programmes,” said Zhuliang.
Besides diving, Malaysia will also be represented in swimming and synchronised swimming in the world championships.
In the swimming team are Busan Asian Games silver medallist Lim Keng Liat, Allen Ong, Saw Yi Khy, Lubrey Lim, Wong Tuck Kar and Siow Yi Ting.
The synchronised swimmers are Suzanna Ghazali Bujang and Sara Kamil Yusof.