Divers to drive Malaysia’s golden quest in SEA Games aquatics

National diver Loh Zhiayi in action at the Incheon Asian Games in South Korea last year. - Filepic

KUALA LUMPUR: Unlucky or not, 13 is the magical number of gold medals that Malaysia hope to bag in aquatics at the Singapore SEA Games in June.

The bulk of it should come from diving, which aims to secure a clean sweep of all eight gold medals at stake for the second straight SEA Games.

But it will still be a daunting task due to the different line-ups in place.

Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) have finalised their entries for diving, with untested youngsters Mohd Syafiq and Adeline Chin likely to partner Ahmad Amsyar and Wendy Ng in the men’s and women’s 3m springboard synchro events respectively.

Asum will also be taking a gamble in the women’s 10m plaftorm synchro with Glasgow Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Pandelela Rinong and Nur Dhabitah Sabri reunited.

Nanjing Youth Olympics silver medallist Loh Zhiayi will be the main hope for gold in the absence of Pandelela from her pet 10m platform individual event together with veteran Leong Mun Yee.

Synchronised swimming, which was last held in Palembang in 2011, will make a return but Malaysia can only hope to win one of the three gold medals at stake this time.

Katrina Ann and Lee Yhing Huey are likely to be paired by China coach Long Yan to help contribute gold for Malaysia in the duet technical and free routine combined event.

While diving is expected to do its part, a big question lies over swimming.

Malaysian swimmers delivered four gold medals in Myanmar two years ago, with a double from Christina Loh in women’s 100m and 200m breaststroke while Daniel Lim and Khoo Cai Lin won the men’s and women’s 400m freestyle respectively.

The swimming list for SEA Games will only be finalised after the Malaysian Open at Bukit Jalil, starting on Thursday.

Asum acting secretary Mae Chen said that the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) wanted to gauge the current form of the swimmers before deciding on the final entries.

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