WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Being among the medal winners is going to be a tall order
THE encouraging performances of the divers at the recent World Series give a false impression that they are medal contenders at the World Championships, slated for July 19-Aug 4, in Barcelona, Spain.
Except for Pandelela Rinong and Leong Mun Yee in the women's 10m platform sychro, the rest are unlikely to make any impression.
The divers ended their campaign of the series by finishing in the top three overall bracket in three disciplines -- 10m platform and synchro; and 3m springboard synchro.
Despite poor scores throughout the six-leg series, Pandelela finished second overall in the platform individual.
The only reason she achieved it was because other top divers competed in selected events.
However, she and Mun Yee are genuine contenders in synchro at the world meet following their consistency in the series which saw them finish second overall
Cheong Jun Hoong and Wendy Ng also made an impact in springboard synchro by finishing third.
Pandelela needs to shape up if she hopes to become the first local to win an individual medal at the world meet.
After recording fifth position twice in the Rome (2009) and Shanghai (2011) editions, all eyes will be on whether Pandelela can make the podium this time.
She will find it tough, though, as a host of world and Olympic champions are also eyeing medals in Barcelona.
China's rising star Si Yajie and Olympic champion Chen Ruolin are expected to finish in the top two bracket leaving the others to battle for bronze.
Yajie, won three of the six legs and is being groomed to replace Ruolin if the latter decides to retire.
Russia's Yulia Koltunova, Britain's Tonia Couch and Mexico's Alejandra Orozco are among the other contenders.
Alejandra, 16, is a replacement for former world champion Paola Espinosa, who has switched to springboard after a knee injury.
With several new names on board, Pandelela cannot afford even one poor dive at the world meet.
The Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM) has been pushing its divers to more competitions this season to help them gain recognition from judges.
ASUM secretary Edwin Chong said reputation matters a lot in subjective sports.
"We want Pandelela and the others to be known to the judges. The diving fraternity knows China and they will not be marked down unless it is really a poor dive," said Edwin yesterday.
"It is not easy to do better than China's divers as their entries are clean. Our divers have no choice but to train harder and work on their consistency."
Edwin believes Pandelela-Mun Yee will finish strongly in the world meet.
"We have a chance in synchro as each nation can only field one pair. Pandelela-Mun Yee have been consistent throughout this season and should win a medal," Edwin added.
Pandelela-Mun Yee were the first medallists at the world meet, a bronze, in the 2009 edition.
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