KUALA LUMPUR: Sarawak lass Elizabeth Jimie (pic, below) created history yesterday when she stunned the field to win the girls' Group B 1m springboard event at the World Junior Diving Championships at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil here.
It was the first-ever gold by a Malaysian woman diver at a world-class event.
And it was a remarkable feat indeed for the 14-year-old Iban from Kuching.
She was carrying a waist injury that she suffered in training last week. And she had a top class field to deal with as well.
When fellow Sarawakian Bryan Nickson Lomas became the first Malaysian to win a gold medal at the meet in Brazil two years ago, China did not send their divers because they could not get their visas in time.
Debutant Elizabeth had not been fancied for a medal. She failed to qualify for the final in the 3m springboard on Thursday but yesterday, she showed nerves of steel to finish first in the preliminary rounds.
She then made three good dives in the final to win the gold with a score of 338.20 points. China's Liu Herui took silver on 336.30 points while Ukraine's Viktoriya Khitrinska was third on 333.60 points.
Elizabeth, who made her international debut by finishing 16th in the 1m springboard event in the World Cup in Changsu, China last month, said she was very excited about winning.
“I dedicate the gold to the country,” she said. “I was not thinking of winning a medal today (yesterday) after failing to qualify for the final in the 3m springboard.
“I just made my normal dives and I was surprised to finish first in the preliminary rounds,” said Elizabeth.
The Form Two student of Tabuan Jaya Secondary School said that she had been tense in the final because she was the last to dive.
“I was worried whether I could execute a good dive in the final. I was also concerned about the Ukraine diver (Khitrinska). However, I kept improving in the final and surprised myself and everyone.”
Cheered by fewer than 1,000-odd fans, Elizabeth was ranked third after the first round of the final. She then moved to second rank after her second dive. And excellent final dive brought her the cheers and the gold.
Asian Games bound diver Khairul Safwan, who partnered Ang Lian Shern in the boys' Group A 3m springboard synchronised event yesterday finished fifth with a score of 268.20 points.
Chinese duo of Wang Yong and Jia Dongjin (321.00) bagged the gold while Russian Artem Lvov and Alexander Gorshkov took the silver (319.38).
Today will be the fifth and last day of the championships and three more medals are at stake.
Elizabeth will be in action in the 3m springboard synchronised event. She will partner Cheong Jun Hoong.
And the fans will be hoping that Bryan, who has just recovered from a hairline fracture in his left thumb, can deliver another medal in the Group A 10m platform event.
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