Six divers off to Athens to qualify for Olympics


  • Other Sport
  • Tuesday, 06 Jan 2004

BY LIM TEIK HUAT

PETALING JAYA: Six national divers, including Vietnam SEA Games gold medallist Leong Mun Yee, will be vying for places in the Olympics when they compete in the World Cup diving competition in Athens next month. 

The World Cup is the second and last meet to offer places in the Olympics, which will take place at the same venue in August. 

Besides Mun Yee, the other women's divers for the World Cup is 13-year-old Gracie Junita. The four-member men's team comprise Nor Aznizal Najib, Khairul Safuan, Bryan Nickson and Zibeon Uzza. 

Coach Yang Zhuliang said that the six divers had met the qualifying entry standards as designated by FINA for the Olympics. 

“They have achieved the minimum entry points required in their respective events. Unlike the previous Olympics, it is harder to qualify this time,” said Zhuliang. 

“Previously, a diver will qualify if they achieved the qualifying entry standards. Now they have to score the minimum entry points and then bid for a place in the designated qualifying event.” 

There are 22 spots remaining in each of the four individual categories in the World Cup (men's and women's 3m springboard and 10m platform). 

The first qualifying championships for the Olympics were the World Championships in Barcelona last July and the top 12 finishers have already booked their places. 

However, qualification for synchronised diving will be awarded to country and not individual pairs. 

“Our divers should qualify for Athens if they can finish inside the top 20. However, achieving consistency in their dives will be the crucial factor for them to do well in a top level meet like the World Cup,” said Zhuliang. 

“It will remain to be seen whether these youngsters can maintain their concentration and not be unnerved by the presence of the crowd.” 

Of the three, only Mun Yee and Nor Aznizal have had the experience of regular exposure to high level meets while Zibeon took part in the 3m springboard event in the World Championships last year. 

Four Malaysian divers – Mun Yee, Farah Begum Abdullah, Yeoh Ken Nee and Azheem Bahari – scored a first for the sport when they qualified for the Sydney Olympics four years ago. 

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