PETALING JAYA: After a clean sweep of all eight golds at last month’s Singapore SEA Games, diving head coach Yang Zhuliang is raising the bar.
The Chinese coach is targeting the Malaysian divers to qualify for all eight Olympic events in Rio de Janeiro next year.
At the last Olympics in London, Malaysia missed out on qualifying for the men’s 10m platform synchro event but Zhuliang is optimistic Chew Yiwei-Ooi Tze Liang can make the grade this time.
Tze Liang-Yiwei bagged the bronze at the Incheon Asian Games last September and a silver at the Puerto Rico leg of the Diving World Grand Prix. Last month, they emerged champions at the SEA Games.
“Malaysia attracted a lot of attention when we qualified for seven out of the eight events in London. And we also won a bronze through Pandelela Rinong in the women’s 10m platform individual.
“Now people look up to us and wonder whether we can maintain our performance. The competition is tougher now. You can see from the results in the Diving World Series where even the powerful Chinese divers were beaten.
“But for now, we are focused on getting the divers to qualify first, especially for the synchro events. The field is small and only eight pairs will be at the Olympics, so the chance for us to get a medal is there,” he said.
The Malaysians have three shots at qualifying for Rio, starting with the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, from July 24-Aug 9. The top three for the synchro events and the top 12 for the individual events will qualify for the Olympics.
The third qualifier is the Asian Diving Cup in Kuala Lumpur in September, but only the champions will get to compete in Rio.
The final qualifying event is the World Cup in Brazil early next year where the remaining four pairs for the synchro and another 18 divers for the individual events will be decided.
The Malaysians are now training in Guangzhou, China, to prepare for the world meet.
Zhuliang is still undecided on his pairing for the women’s 10m platform synchro.
He has three divers – Cheong Jun Hoong, Leong Mun Yee and Pandelela – to choose for the event. Pandelela-Mun Yee were bronze medallists in the World Championships in Rome (2009) and Barcelona (2013).