KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 ― Former world champion Cheong Jun Hoong will be making her first competitive appearance since May 2018 when she takes part in the first Malaysia International Online Diving Competition from December 5-6.
Malaysia Swimming secretary-general Mae Chen said the Perak-born diver has been given the green light by coach Yang Zhuliang to take part in the five-nation competition after undergoing intensive training in the past few months.
Chen said 2020 Tokyo Olympic-bound divers Pandelela Rinong and Leong Mun Yee would also feature in the two-day virtual meet, which will see the participation of 47 divers from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan and Malaysia.
“The idea of organising this event, and also its concept, was initiated by national head coach Christian Brooker and his assistant Li Rui since our divers are desperate for more competitions to prepare for next year’s FINA Diving World Cup in Tokyo, which also happens to be the last qualifying tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” she told a press conference at the National Aquatics Centre in Bukit Jalil today.
Chen, however, said they were still negotiating with several parties, such as the Malaysia Stadium Corporation and also the Internet service provider, in a bid to reduce the cost of organising the competition, which will cost RM24,000.
Jun Hoong made history when she became the first Malaysian woman diver to win the world title in the 10m individual platform event at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary in 2017, a year after winning the Rio Olympic silver medal with Pandelela in women’s synchronised 10m platform.
Jun Hoong's last competitive outing was in the final round of Diving World Series in Kazan, Russia in May 2018, where she won a bronze medal in the 10m synchronised platform event with Pandelela.
The 30-year-old Jun Hoong has been under rehabilitation since skipping the Indonesian Asian Games in August 2018 to undergo operation for a serious knee injury.
Meanwhile, Brooker revealed that several Olympic events would be contested in the online diving competition, including springboard and synchronised events in both men and women’s categories.
The Australian also pointed out that International Swimming Federation (FINA)-certified judges would be involved in the two-day meet.
“I am very concerned that our divers, who have been without any competition since early this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will lose focus and motivation, especially as we are preparing for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
“So, I think the best way to keep their focus is by organising the diving event via online to gauge their performance against those from other countries,” Brooker said. ― Bernama