THREE Sarawakian divers have qualified to represent Malaysia at the London Olympics in July.
They are Pandelela Rinong, Bryan Nickson Lomas and Traisy Vivien Tukiet.
Sarawak’s diving queen Pandelela has qualified for the women’s 10m platform individual and synchro as well as 3m springboard synchro, while Traisy has qualified for the women’s 10m platform and Bryan has qualified for the men’s 10m platform individual and 3m springboard individual as well as synchro.
At age 18, Traisy is apparently the youngest Malaysian athlete to qualify for the London Olympics after reaching the semi-finals of the women’s 10m platform individual at the Diving World Cup in London last February.
Bryan and Pandelela also took part in the event which was held at the new Olympics Aquatics Centre, so all three divers know exactly what conditions will be like in July.
Bryan also made a memorable debut when he won a bronze together with naturalised Malaysian Huang Qiang in the 3m springboard synchro at the event.
Despite this being their first competition together, the duo won Malaysia’s first ever World Cup medal and earned a spot to compete in the Olympics.
They will actually be the first ever Malaysian pair to compete in a synchro event at the world’s premier sporting event.
According to the Diving World Rankings, Pandelela is ranked seventh in the world for the platform women, while Traisy is ranked 17th.
For the platform men, Bryan is ranked 14th in the world.
Bryan, who has been to the Olympics twice, said the London Games would be meaningful to him and his team-mates.
“Previously, the participation in the Olympic Games was only for exposure and experience but this time, it’s more challenging because the team is fighting for medals,” he is quoted as saying.
Well all the best to Sarawak’s stars. It certainly won’t be easy, but the fact that they will be representing Malaysia and competing with the world’s best is indeed a fantastic achievement in itself.
Shine on Anak Sarawak.
The Bernama report:
National athletes intensify preparations as London Olympics starts 100 days countdown
KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 (Bernama) — With 100 days to go for the 2012 London Olympic Games, national athletes who qualified for the Games have intensified preparations to do their very best at the biggest sporting event in the world.
Diver Bryan Nickson Lomas who had twice seen action in the Olympics said the London Games would be meaningful to him and his team-mates.
“Previously, the participation in the Olympic Games was only for exposure and experience but this time, it”s more challenging because the team is fighting for medals,” he told reporters when met at the launch to the 100 days countdown to the 2012 London Olympics at the National Sports Council here today.
The Sarawak-born athlete, said he would be taking part in the 3m springboard individual, 10m platform individual and 3m synchronized springboard together with Yeoh Ken Nee.
Women”s cyclist, Fatehah Mustapa was also excited after qualifying for her first Olympics.
“I am really happy but I have to improve many aspects. However, I will do my level best to reach the final in the keirin event,” she said.
Besides Fatehah, another national cyclist who has booked a place in the Olympics was Muhd Azizulhasni Awang, dubbed “The Pocket Rocketman”.
Meanwhile, fencer Yu Peang Kean said a tight training schedule had improved his focus for the Games.
Yu, who will be competing in the sabre event, said he would undergo training in China and Italy prior to the Olympics.
Archer, Chen Chu Siang, who had experienced the thrills and spills of the Olympics through his participation at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, advised other national athletes to continue their training regime and not be intimidated by the attention from media and supporters.
Also present at the launch were Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, British High Commissioner Simon Featherstone and Malaysian chef-de-mission to the London Olympics, Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid.
Nineteen Malaysian athletes have thus far qualified for the Olympics
scheduled from July 27 to Aug 12 while 12 paralympic athletes will be competing in the London Paralympic Games from Aug 29 to Sept 9.
The New Straits Times report from February:
DIVING: Among the world’s elite
By Ajitpal Singh
NATURALISED Malaysian Huang Qiang and Bryan Nickson Lomas made a memorable debut in the World Cup at London’s magnificent new Olympic Aquatics Centre on Monday by achieving two significant firsts for the country.
Diving in their first competition together, Huang Qiang-Lomas not only clinched Malaysia’s first ever World Cup medal, a bronze, but also earned a quota Olympic spot in the 3m springboard synchro discipline.
Come the London Games in July, Huang Qiang-Lomas will be the first ever Malaysian pair to compete in a synchro event at the Olympics.
It was a great achievement for Huang Qiang and Lomas, considering they only trained seriously as a pair during a recent four-week stint in China. Furthermore, they managed to put in the shade some of the world’s best synchro divers in London to earn an Olympic spot.
Traisy Vivien became the youngest Malaysian athlete, at 18, to qualify for the London Olympics after reaching the semi-finals of the women’s 10m platform individual.
Malaysian qualifiers for the Olympics now stand at five but more divers are expected to make the cut in the World Cup.
The five qualifiers are Lomas (men’s 10m platform and 3m springboard and synchro), Ken Nee (3m springboard), Huang Qiang (3m springboard synchro), Pandelela Rinong (women’s 10m platform) and Traisy (10m platform).
Huang Qiang-Lomas earned a spot in the 12-pair final by finishing fifth on 402.09 in the preliminaries.
The final started with China’s world champions Qin Kai-Luo Yutong leading the charge in the first dive while Huang Qiang-Lomas stayed close after the completion of the second round.
The Malaysians were fourth after the third round before moving up to third in the fourth.
It was a nervy end in the final dive as several pairs were fighting for silver and bronze with China already having secured the gold medal.
Huang Qiang-Lomas, however, held their nerve to take the bronze with a 432.09 total, 13.62 points behind gold medallists Qin Kai-Luo Yutong while Russia’s Evgeny Kuznetsov-Illya Zakharov finished second on 439.83.
As China and Russia had already qualified for the Olympics, the four quota spots, allocated for the World Cup went to Huang Qiang-Lomas, Ukraine’s Illya Kvasha-Oleksyi Prygorov (fourth 424.83), Canada’s Alexandre Despatie-Rueben Ross (fifth 417.42) and the United States’ Troy Dumais-Kristian Ipsen (414.30).
Huang Qiang, who received his Malaysian citizenship last July, was not supposed to compete in the World Cup as he needed to go through the nine-month cooling off period in accordance with Fina’s regulations for those who want to compete for their adopted countries.
But the world body changed its rules two months ago and Huang Qiang, upon receiving clearance from the China Aquatics Association, was given the go-ahead.
Huang Qiang, however, was not guaranteed a spot in the national squad as the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM) felt he was not physically prepared for high-level competition after a six-year lay-off.
The 30-year-old, also one of the national diving coaches, overcame the odds by making a good impression during the team’s training stint in China.
National coach Yang Zhuliang immediately recommended him for competition and ASUM agreed.
“Upon receiving my citizenship last year, I was still unsure about returning to competition but I continued training. It was not easy at first as I needed to balance my coaching and training,” said Huang Qiang when contacted in London yesterday.
“Today (Monday), I am happy to be on the podium in my first ever competition for Malaysia. It is a proud day for me and I want to dedicate my victory to Malaysia for giving me this chance to compete once again.
“We are the bronze medallists in London and this makes us a medal prospect at the Olympic Games. Malaysia have never won an Olympic medal in diving … it will be great if Bryan and I can achieve it.
“However, we need to train harder to make this happen. I have to admit that I was not at my best here and so Bryan and I did not execute tough dives. We made fewer mistakes with simple dives today (Monday).”
Huang Qiang once formed a formidable combination with Tian Liang in the springboard synchro and the pair were then the undisputed champions, leading up to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games but he had to withdraw from the event due to injury.
On their plans for the Olympic Games, Huang Qiang said: “Bryan and I need to practise tougher routines. If we can get things right, then we could also be in sight for an Olympic gold medal.”
In the women’s 10m platform, Traisy finished 16th to make the semi-finals and also qualify for the Olympics with a 282.75 total, five rungs below Pandelela (305.15).
They were competing in the 18-diver semi-finals late yesterday.