Team Singapore

Cheong, Malaysia's diving machine

Five times she stepped up to the springboard at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, and on all five occasions, her routine was exactly the same. 

Walk up, dive, bow, talk to coach, repeat, with not a single glance at the scoreboard. 

Expressionless, fuss-free, mechanical mastery. 

Malaysia's Cheong Jun Hoong romped to the gold in the women's 3m springboard on the opening day of the SEA Games diving competition with a score of 349.65, with compatriot Ng Yan Yee taking silver (309.20), and Singapore's Fong Kay Yian finishing a distant third (258.90). 

Singapore's other representative in the event, Myra Lee, finished fifth (211.00) in the seven-woman event. 

It was a completely different Cheong that met the media later. 

"I look like a machine? Maybe I... no, I can't say that," giggled the Olympian. 

"When I see my coach, I just get very serious. He's very strict and that maybe works for me." 

Admitting that she felt nervous, 25-year-old Cheong believes she coped well - something Singapore's bronze medal winner Fong, is just starting to do. 

"She always cried before she got onto the board in serious competitions, but now she doesn't. This was the first time she didn't cry," said coach Xu Jie, revealing that a tear-less Fong was the first sign that something good was on the way. 

The second sign came from Indonesia's Eka Indah, Fong's closest challenger for bronze.

She fell off the board on the fourth of her five dives, paving the way for Fong.  

The Singaporean is just enjoying the moment. 

"These past few days I've been stressed, I've been talking to our psychologist, my friends and family," said the 18-year-old.

"I didn't expect a medal, just wanted to dive as best I could, and this bronze was a surprise for me."

Malaysia reaffirmed their dominance in the sport, striking gold in the day's other event, the men's 10m synchronised platform final. 

The pair of Ooi Tze Liang and Chew Yiwei stormed to victory with 404.37 points, ahead of Indonesia (355.11) and Thailand (316.77). 

- SHAMIR OSMAN

SEA GamesTeam SingaporeUncategorisedDiving