KUALA LUMPUR: Injuries to key divers Bryan Nickson Lomas and Cheong Jun Hoong in training have dented Malaysia’s chances of fighting for medals in the 16th World Junior Diving Championships to be held at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil from Aug 23-27.
Bryan sustained a hairline crack to his left thumb and was forced to skip the World Cup in China two weeks ago.
The good news is that he has already begun training two days ago but Bryan will still be racing against time to get fit in time for the world junior meet.
Bryan is training with the national team members in Kunming and is only due to return around Aug 16.
Bryan’s condition is a cause for concern to the team, especially as he is Malaysia’s best hope for a medal in the world junior meet.
Bryan scored a historic first for Malaysia when he won the 3m springboard Group B (14-15 years) title in the last world junior meet in Brazil two years ago.
He has since concentrated on the 10m platform and will be competing in the 10m platform in Group A (16-18 years) this time.
As for Jun Hoong, she resumed training three weeks ago after injuring her back during the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in March. Both divers are under the Doha 2006 programme and were gold medallists at the Manila SEA Games last December.
Malaysia have entered nine boys and four girls for the world junior meet.
Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) secretary Edwin Chong said they had reduced the training volume for Bryan because of his condition.
“We pulled him out of the World Cup. His thumb is still bandaged and he is feeling discomfort.
“But the good thing is that he has started training. We hope he will be all right by the time the competition starts,” said Edwin during a Milo sponsorship ceremony of the event yesterday.
The world junior meet in Malaysia is set to be the biggest ever, with a total of 39 countries confirmed after entries closed last week.
“We could have had 41 countries but the Philippines and Kazakhstan withdrew their participation.”
The previous record was when Canada hosted the event in 1999. Then, there were 36 countries.
A total of 206 divers will be competing for medals in 16 events (eight for each age-group). Divers from Australia, Japan, Britain and US will be hoping to pull the rug from under the Chinese divers, who will certainly be the ones to beat.