Thursday October 25, 2012
Zhuliang stays on
By LIM TEIK HUAT
KUALA LUMPUR: Yang Zhuliang has only one thing on his mind after agreeing to continue as head coach of the Malaysian diving team – to beat the Chinese at their own game.
Zhuliang finally signed a contract with the National Sports Council (NSC) yesterday.
The China-born coach, who has Australian citizenship, agreed to a two-year deal, with an option to renew for another two years.
Zhuliang, who earned US$5,000 a month, is expected to take home US$7,500 from next month with other perks throw in – making him the highest-paid foreign coach in the country.
Having made up his mind to extend his contract beyond October, the 48-year-old coach, who guided Pandelela Rinong to an historic bronze at the London Olympics in August, is ready to continue raising the standard among Malaysian divers.
His short-term goals are to achieve better results at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Asian Games in Incheon in 2014.
Malaysia have won silver medals at the last two editions of the Asian Games but these have come from the synchronised disciplines while Pandelela took the first-ever Commonwealth Games gold medal in the women’s platform event.
“We have consistently achieved success in the last few major championships since I returned to take charge in 2009. I am happy that the divers played their parts but we must all work harder now as expectations have increased, especially after Pandelela’s Olympic bronze medal effort,” said Zhuliang.
“These are the challenges for me. I have signed the contract and I am happy with the contents after some revisions were made. I have to thank everyone for being patient with me over the last few weeks.
“My biggest priority will be for diving to get a medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016 ... I hope that some of the current juniors will be ready by then.
“There is still a gap between them and the seniors, so this is one area I’ll have to pay attention to.”
Zhuliang admitted that his heart has always been with the divers, having worked with them since they were still very young.
Pandelela was relieved to hear of Zhuliang’s contract extension and the news could not have come at a better time as she is in the midst of preparing for her first exam as a first-year Sports Science student at University Malaya.
“I didn’t go for training today ... I was in campus preparing for my exams. I didn’t know the coach has signed the contract extension until my colleagues rang me up to tell me. Honestly, we were all worried that he was going to leave us. I am so relieved,” said the 19-year-old national Sportswoman of the Year.
“We like the way he trains us although he can be hard on us. But we cannot imagine him not being around.”