PETALING JAYA: Malaysia have never had more than three divers in the last two Olympics but from the performances in the World Championships in Melbourne, the Games in Beijing next year is likely to see a change.
On the final day of the diving competition yesterday, Leong Mun Yee and Elizabeth Jimie made their presence felt on the world stage by reaching the top 12-final of the women’s synchronised 3m springboard event.
They finished ninth on 276.96 in the preliminaries to join diving powerhouse China as the only two Asian representatives in the final.
However, the Malaysian duo, who were the bronze medallists in the Doha Asian Games in the same event last December, could not hold on to their performance and finished last in the final on 240.54.
However, Mun Yee and Elizabeth can still take comfort in the fact that they were the first Malaysian women to qualify for the final of a World Championships diving event.
On Sunday, Bryan Nickson Lomas became the first Malaysian athlete to qualify for the Beijing Olympics when he finished seventh in the men’s 10m platform competition.
While Bryan was the only Malaysian to qualify early for the Games, Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) secretary Edwin Chong is confident more will make the grade from the World Cup in Beijing early next year.
The top 12 finishers for the respective individual 3m springboard and 10m platform competitions qualified for the Olympics from Melbourne. For the synchronised events, only the top three pairs earn spots in Beijing.
“At the World Cup, the top 18 semi-finalists from individual competitions will qualify if they had not done so in the World Championships,” said Edwin in a telephone interview from Melbourne yesterday.
“Another four pairs more will also qualify from the World Cup for synchronised events. This does not include hosts China, who are eligible to field one pair for each event.
“Based on our current performances, there is a good chance for us to have more divers making it to the Beijing Olympics.
“Ken Nee was using a higher level of difficulty and missed out on the chance because of one bad dive. With more training, he should have no problem securing a place from the World Cup.”
He added there was hope to see the Malaysian divers qualifying for the men’s and women’s 3m springboard synchronised events for the Olympics for the first time.
“The divers need to put in a lot of hard work. They need to improve on their synchronisation and consistency,” said Edwin.
How the divers fared in Melbourne
>> BRYAN NICKSON LOMAS
Men’s 10m platform: Preliminaries (sixth); semi-final (fifth); final (seventh)
>> YEOH KEN NEE
Men's 3m springboard: Preliminaries (15th); semi-finals (16th)
>> KEN NEE-ROSSHARISHAM ROSLAN
Men's synchronised 3m springboard: Preliminaries (eighth); final (eighth).
>> LEONG MUN YEE
Women's 1m springboard: Preliminaries (20th)
Women's 3m springboard: Preliminaries (33rd)
>> ELIZABETH JIMIE
Women's 1m springboard: Preliminaries (15th)
Women's 3m springboard: Preliminaries (27th)
>> MUN YEE-ELIZABETH
Women's synchronised 3m springboard: Preliminaries (ninth); final (12th)
>> CHEONG JUN HOONG
Women's 10m platform: Preliminaries (27th)