PETALING JAYA: The National Sports Council (NSC) are happy with the performance of Chinese diving coach Yang Zhuliang.
And the sports development officer for aquatics, Joherman Amir, said that the NSC director general, Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad, had agreed to offer Zhuliang an extension of his contract until the end of 2006.
“His current contract with us ends in February next year. We are happy with the work he has done here and we want him to stay on,” said Joherman.
“It is important for the training programmes to continue because we have the SEA Games in Manila next year. The following year, we have the Commonwealth and Asian Games.”
The 2006 Commonwealth Games will be held in Melbourne in March and the Asian Games will be held in Doha in September.
Aquatics (swimming and diving) are among the 18 sports that come under the Gemilang 2006 special programme.
Under the programme, the NSC will only focus their attention on sports that have the potential to win medals at the Commonwealth and Asian Games.
Zhuliang returned home last night with the Malaysian diving team after a successful outing in the World Junior Championships in Belem, Brazil.
“We are very happy with the performances of the divers. All of them were finalists in their respective events,” said Joherman.
Malaysia had four divers in the championships – Gracie Junita, Cheong Jun Hoong, Bryan Nickson and Khairul Mansur.
It was Bryan who stole the show with a surprise victory in the 3m springboard event of the 14-15 age-group competition. It was the first time that a Malaysian diver won a title at the world level.
Yeoh Ken Nee was the first Malaysian to win a medal, taking the silver in the 10m platform event in the 2000 world junior championships in Calgary.
The efforts to produce top divers have certainly bore fruits for the NSC.
“Compared to other countries like Australia and Japan, we have a relatively short history in diving,” said Joherman.
“We only started training divers from the Bukit Jalil Sports School in 1994 to prepare them for the 1998 Commonwealth Games but we have managed to gain some form of success.”
There are currently five boys and four girls in training under Zhuliang and assistant coaches Su Jie and Agnes Wong.
The boys in the national team are Bryan, Khairul, Zibeon Uzza, James Sandayud and Ahmad Fakhri.
The girls' team comprise Gracie, Jun Hoong, Leong Mun Yee and Elizabeth Jimie.