PETALING JAYA: Malaysian divers have received a timely boost in their bid to earn early qualification for the Beijing Olympics next year with the addition of former world champion Huang Qiang to the coaching panel.
Huang Qiang was a two-time World Cup champion (2000, 2001) in the 10m platform synchronised event with Tian Liang before turning to coaching with his home province side, Jiangsu.
He has been signed up on an initial two-year contract with the National Sports Council (NSC) and is the third coach for the elite national diving team after Li Lijie and Zhu Shanming.
The Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) secretary, Edwin Chong, said that Huang Qiang is now in Kunming with the seven-member team, who were down to compete in the World Championships in Melbourne from March 18-April 1.
The four male divers in the team are Doha Asian Games silver medallists Yeoh Ken Nee, Rossharisham Roslan, Bryan Nickson Lomas and Khairul Safwan Mansur. The female divers are Doha Asiad bronze medallists Leong Mun Yee, Elizabeth Jimie and Cheong Jun Hoong.
“We have been looking for another coach for some time. It is not easy for us to get good coaches. Huang Qiang has to quit as an athlete before China released him,” said Edwin.
“For the moment, we have asked him to help prepare Ken Nee, who is aiming to become the first Malaysian diver to qualify for the top 12 final in the World Championships. If he can achieve this, he will qualify for the Beijing Olympics.
“I am optimistic that Ken Nee will settle down fast with Huang Qiang. They have been good friends since they met at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok.”
At the Bangkok Asiad, Huang Qiang took silver behind Tian Liang in the 10m platform event.
For the World Championships, Ken Nee will take part in the 3m springboard individual event. He will partner Rossharisham for the synchronised event.