SEPANG: There was a pleasant surprise for the eight Malaysian divers as they flew out last night to fulfil a two-medal target at the London Olympics.
Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) president Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim gave out £4,000 as pocket money to be shared among those in the aquatics team to boost their spirits ahead of their Olympic assignment.
And he believes they can meet the two-medal target.
“Malaysian diving has improved tremendously since the last Olympics and, based on feedback from the coaches after their two-month training stint in China, we believe getting a medal is not impossible,” he said. “But we will try to get two medals.
“Badminton has provided the country with the medals so far in the Olympics ... we hope it can be diving’s turn now.”
This will be Malaysia’s biggest group of divers heading to the Olympics since their first participation in Sydney 2000.
Malaysia also qualified for the synchro disciplines for the first time in the Olympics.
The country will have representation in three out of the four synchro finals – men’s 3m springboard synchro (Huang Qiang-Bryan), women’s 3m springboard synchro (Pandelela-Jun Hoong) and women’s 10m platform synchro (Pandelela-Mun Yee).
Khoo Cai Lin and Heidi Gan are the representatives in swimming for the women’s 800m freestyle and women’s open water 10km race.
There was no let-up in training earlier despite the divers having to pack their stuff to fly out to London last night.
They had a two-hour session under the watchful eyes of coaches Yang Zhuliang and Zhang Yikun, who will also be with them in London.
Team manager Mae Chen said the divers returned home from Dali on Friday night and were back at the Bukit Jalil pool the next morning.
“The coach even had them training on Sunday. They have shown their commitment to training and we hope they can bring out their best on competition day,” she said.
Pandelela and Jun Hoong will be the first Malaysian divers in action when they take the plunge in the women’s 3m springboard synchro on Sunday.
But the three events where there could be big cheers will come when Pandelela returns to partner Mun Yee for the women’s 10m platform synchro two days later followed by Huang Qiang-Bryan on Aug 1 and Pandelela’s signature event – the women’s 10m platform – on Aug 9.
Pandelela-Mun Yee took the bronze in the World Championships in Rome in 2009 in the women’s 10m platform synchro.
Malaysia have never made it past the preliminaries in the individual event at the Olympics but the coaches are optimistic that things will be different as Pandelela, Huang Qiang and Bryan will be targeting to break into the top 12 finals.