Penang all set to break gold medal drought in diving


  • Other Sport
  • Thursday, 25 May 2006

THE Penang diving squad do not even have a dry gymnasium they can call their own but they could spring some surprises in the competition which begins at the State Aquatic Centre in Gunung Kerian today. 

Penang have never bagged a diving gold medal in Sukma since the inception of the biennial Games in 1986. 

But the Penang team are quietly optimistic that things will be different this time. 

Teams from Sarawak, Sabah and Perak have been dominant all these years in the sport. 

But Penang's development programme over the last six years is about to bear fruit. It began with the Penang Amateur Swimming Association hiring a coach to prepare a team for the 2000 Games, which they hosted. 

Although Penang still do not have their own dry gymnasium – the divers had to make do with a dismantled springboard – they have had the benefit of training under the Chinese coach since the 2004 Games in Seremban. 

The Penang diving squad comprise three boys and two girls training under Li Jie. 

The boys in the team are Ang Lian Shern, Ooi Tzer Liang and Seow Hock Mao while the girls in the side are Jessly Yeoh and Kok Lee Ling. 

With national divers like Bryan Nickson, James Sandayud, Khairul Mansur and Cheong Jun Hoong not eligible to compete, Penang manager Allan Thor said that they were confident of a good showing from their divers, who are aged between 13 and 18. 

The divers were also sent to train in Tianjin for a month leading up to the Games. 

“Our divers have been groomed for this stage for the last few years. We are targeting three gold medals this time,” said Allan. 

Four of the 10 gold medals will be decided on the first day of competition today. 

Lian Shern and Hock Mao will compete in the 3m synchronised springboard competition while Jessly and Lee Ling are also down for the same event. Lian Shern and Tzer Liang will be taking part in the 10m platform while Jessly will compete in the girls’ competition. 

For the record, Penang bagged three bronze medals at the 2004 Sukma. 

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