KUALA LUMPUR: A place in the diving team for the Doha Asian Games beckons for young Elizabeth Jimie, who became the first Malaysian girl to win a gold medal in the World Junior Championships.
The 14-year-old Jimie, competing in Group B of the just concluded championships at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil, had failed to qualify for the top 12 final in the 3m springboard but the experience she gained stoked her desire to achieve something.
And she sealed her place in the history books in the 1m springboard competition. She kept the formidable Chinese at bay to emerge as the latest diving world junior champion, following in the footsteps of fellow Sarawakian Bryan Nickson, who won the boys' Group B 3m springboard gold medal in Brazil two years ago.
Elizabeth's feat here was made sweeter by the fact that it was only her second international competition after the World Cup in China last month and also in the company of Chinese divers. China did not feature in the last championship because of visa problems.
The Asum secretary, Edwin Chong, said that they would recommend Elizabeth for selection to the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) to join the more experienced Leong Mun Yee in the team for the Asiad.
Elizabeth is also taller than another diver in the national senior team, the 17-year-old Cheong Jun Hoong. And she is seen as the better choice to partner Mun Yee to perhaps beat Japan to a first-ever silver in the 3m synchronised diving event in Doha in December.
We are putting her in for the Asian Games because she has the potential to win medals if she continues to improve in the next three months. We will also recommend her to compete in the individual 1m and 3m springboard events, said Edwin.
In fact, Asum wanted to bring Elizabeth into the national senior squad earlier but Sarawak needed her for the challenges in the Kedah Sukma (Malaysia Games) three months ago.
At Sukma, Elizabeth won four gold medals. She then joined the national team for a training stint in Kunming in the rin-up to the World Juniors.
We were only banking on Bryan Nickson to win a medal. The gold from Elizabeth was unexpected because we were unsure whether she could hold her form all the way. But she came out shining from the World Juniors.
Elizabeth also admitted that her achievement was a pleasant surprise.
I was competing with the best divers in the world. Maybe there was no pressure on me. I was just went in to give my best because I did not do well in the 3m springboard competition earlier, she said.
Elizabeth said she hoped to continue to improve on her consistency and diving skills.
I will probably be going back to China with the team to continue training until the Asian Games, she said.
Besides Elizabeth, Malaysia also bagged a bronze medal through Bryan in the boys' Group A 10m platform event.