Friday August 17, 2012
Better facilities for diving team thanks to Pandelela’s London feat
By LIM TEIK HUAT
KUALA LUMPUR: It took a 19-year-old girl to get the authorities to take steps to improve the diving facilities in Bukit Jalil with her bronze medal splash at the London Olympics.
The national diving squad can now look forward to better things as Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri
Ahmad Shabery Cheek has allocated RM800,000 to refurbish the National Aquatic Centre.
Pandelela Rinong complained about the poor facilities after she became Malaysia’s youngest, and first woman, Olympic medal winner with her bronze medal in the 10m platform.
The divers have been forced to go for longer training stints in China in the past few years because of the deplorable condition of the diving facilities.
But Shabery assured yesterday that things would be rectified after taking a first hand look, which
included climbing the platform to check the corroded boards.
For a start, the torn trampolines, all six of them, will be replaced together with the springboards in the dry gym that no longer conform to the latest international requirements.
Modifications will also be made to the platforms to enable the divers to practise the synchro disciplines.
The Bukit Jalil venue was built specially to host the 1998 Commonwealth Games aquatic events but synchronised diving only made its Olympic debut in Sydney two years later.
The upgrading of the facilities and new equipment will cost an estimated RM1 million but
Shabery said it was worth it as diving has shown that it can deliver medals at the Olympics.
“After checking the facilities, I’m sad that we didn’t give priority to it before this,” he said.
”We realise now that we can be serious medal contenders at the world stage and we have to provide the divers with the proper facilities.
“I was told the repair works at the pool will cost RM500,000 with another RM300,00 for upgrading the dry gym, including changing the springboards as they have lost their elasticity.
“The other things will cost about RM200,000 and we will need RM500,000 a year for maintenance as the trampolines have to be changed every six months.
“But we will do it. I have informed Perbadanan Stadium Malaysia to get the tenders ready. Once decided, it should take a month to complete the upgrading works.”
On diving head coach Yang Zhuliang’s position, Shabery said they would do whatever it takes to keep him.
“He will be offered a new contract. We want to retain him as he has done a lot to raise the
standard of Malaysian diving.
“We need the expertise of Chinese coaches as this is a technical sport to which we are still new.
“But in the meantime, I have also told the association to get our divers who have retired to learn from the Chinese coaches as well.
“We will hire more coaches as the divers don’t have enough to go around,” he added.
Zhuliang was pleased to hear that steps are being taken to address their concerns.
“It’s good that the minister intends to bring in more coaches. Currently, we have four but we
have to take care of the elite and junior groups.
“This isn’t the case in China where one coach only takes care of one or two national divers,” he said.