Monday February 27, 2012
Pandelela-Jun Hoong earn prized Olympic quota spot
By LIM TEIK HUAT
KUALA LUMPUR: Pandelela Rinong-Cheong Jun Hoong continued Malaysia’s fine campaign at the FINA Diving World Cup in London by winning a prized Olympic quota spot in the women’s 3m springboard synchro in only their first competition together.
Diving coach Yang Zhuliang’s gamble on opting for Pandelela-Jun Hoong over the more experienced but error-prone Leong Mun Yee-Wendy Ng Yan Yee paid off as the duo grabbed one of the four remaining spots at stake after finishing sixth in the final with 300.90 points.
Pandelela-Jun Hoong’s success means Malaysia have secured nine quota spots with three of them earned in synchro disciplines for the first time in Olympic history.
It was also the first time a Malaysian pair breached the 300-point mark in the women’s 3m springboard synchro.
China’s He Zi and Wu Minxia claimed the gold with 345.30 points ahead of Canadians Jennifer Abel-Emilie Heymans, who posted 321.90 points to take silver ahead of Italians Tania Cagnotto-Francesca Dallape.
China and Canada, gold and silver medallists from the World Championships in Shanghai last year, already qualified together with Australia and hosts Britain for the disicipline.
However, Australia failed to repeat their bronze-medal showing and it was to Pandelela-Jun Hoong’s credit that they rose to the occasion to see Malaysia join Italy, the US and Ukraine to complete the eight-nation field at the Olympics.
Malaysia will be the only Asian country to join powerhouse China to be represented in the synchro events at the Olympics.
Malaysia’s Huang Qiang-Bryan Nickson Lomas were the first to make history by taking bronze for the first time en route to winning a ticket in the men’s 3m springboard synchro while Pandelela partnered Leong Mun Yee to qualify for the women’s 10m platform synchro.
Malaysia also earned maximum individual slots in the women’s platform (Pandelela and Traisy Vivien Tukiet) and men’s 3m springboard (Bryan Nickson Lomas and Yeoh Ken Nee) while one each were won in the women’s 3m springboard (Jun Hoong) and men’s 10m platform (Bryan).
Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia secretary Edwin Chong was delighted with the superb display by Jun Hoong-Pandelela.
“Mun Yee-Wendy (Asian Games silver medallists and SEA Games gold medallists) finished 10th at the World Championships in Shanghai and and it will be very tough for them to qualify, so we wanted to try out a new combination.
“Pandelela has not trained for the springboard for some time and she had to give more time to focus on the two synchro disciplines when we sent them to China for training before heading to London.
“It’s a big achievement for Malaysian diving as we have quality divers in three out of the four synchro events at the Olympics.
“Now, we hope Ooi Tze Liang and Wendy will also qualify through the dive-offs on the last day,” he said.