Thursday July 19, 2012
Olympic-bound diver Ken Nee has started planning for his retirement
By LIM TEIK HUAT
StarSport takes a look at the lifestyles of some of our Olympic-bound athletes. Here, we focus on the things they normally do away from the sport arena. The third of our four ON THE SIDELINES coverage is on diver Yeoh Ken Nee.
THERE are few opportunities for leisurely pursuits with the Olympics just around the corner but diver Yeoh Ken Nee is likely to be seen at a bookshop when he is not practising at the gym or plunging off the board.
But you won’t find him flipping through fancy car magazines or comics, though. He is more interested in business related and self-improvement books.
The 28-year-old finds it an enriching experience digesting the information contained in these kinds of books.
“I also like to read magazines on properties and stock options ... things like that,” said Ken Nee, the oldest of three siblings.
“It is not boring you know. I find it interesting and stimulating as it teaches us lessons to apply in real life.
“My parents have been property consultants for a long time and their influence has rubbed off on me.
“I was taught the value of properties from young.”
Ken Nee has also attended a few seminars on self-improvement in the past.
“I was inspired by former top swimmer Alex Lim (Keng Liat) a few years back to attend one of these seminars,” said Ken Nee, who lives with his family in Cheras.
“He said that the seminars showed him what one can do to improve one’s quality of life.
“He applied it to his life and invested in properties with the money he received under the incentive scheme so that he would have something to fall back on when he retires from swimming.
“Now he is coaching but he also has properties of his own.
“Many athletes do not know what they are going to do once they retire and I hope I won’t be caught in that situation.”
But Ken Nee, who drives an orange-coloured MyVi, also knows how to enjoy life. One of his favourite past times is watching movies with his friends.
“I’ll watch any movie as long as it is entertaining. Training takes up a lot of our time and there isn’t much spare time left for ourselves,” he said.
“Sunday is the only time we have to catch up on what’s happening outside of our sport.”
While many of his team-mates have called it a day, Ken Nee continues to slog on simply because of his passion for diving.
Ken Nee is one of only two divers left from the pioneer group of trainees first identified and trained for the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
The National Sports Council (NSC) started the Jaya ’98 diving project in 1994, when Malaysia got the Commonwealth Games host job.
Ken Nee bagged his first diving gold medal for Malaysia at the 1999 SEA Games in Brunei and has since gone on to achieve a couple of historic firsts.
He was the first medal winner for Malaysia at the Commonwealth and Asian Games as well as one of the first Olympians for diving.
London will only be his second Olympic outing. He was among the four divers who qualified for their first Olympics in Sydney in 2000. He then took a two-year break to concentrate on his studies and missed out on Athens four years later.
Ken Nee again missed out when he failed to make the cut for the last Olympics in Beijing.
“This will be my last Olympics as there are younger divers coming up.
“I am keen to take up a coaching role but if that doesn’t work out, I’ll have to look at other options. I will decide after the London Games,” said Ken Nee, who will compete in the men’s 3m springboard at the Olympics.
Ken Nee admits that he is not a medal hope as Malaysia have other divers – like Pandelela Rinong, Bryan Nickson Lomas and Huang Qiang – with realistic chances of finishing on the podium for the first time in Olympic history.
“We have three chances to fight for a medal as we have qualified for three out of the four synchro disciplines where the finals are held straight away,” said Ken Nee.
“I am just going for the individual springboard, where I hope to sign off by reaching the semi-finals this time.
“We only started diving at the Olympics in Sydney and none of us have made it past the preliminary rounds of the individual competition until now.”
Malaysia have eight divers heading for London, the biggest squad going to the Olympics this time.
The divers have been training in China for the last two months and will only return home for two days this weekend to pick up their Olympic accreditations before heading for London.