Malaysian coach faces trial for raping diver

A diver is seen against half-finished buildings during a practice session the National Aquatic Centre during day 2 of aquatics on Aug 22, 2017.
A diver is seen against half-finished buildings during a practice session the National Aquatic Centre during day 2 of aquatics on Aug 22, 2017. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

KUALA LUMPUR • A Malaysian national diving coach will go on trial for allegedly raping a diver who was training for the next Olympics, a lawyer for the athlete and reports said yesterday.

Huang Qiang, 35, is accused of raping the 20-year-old sportswoman at a gym at the national aquatics centre in Kuala Lumpur last month.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge when he appeared in court in the capital on Wednesday, the alleged victim's lawyer Cheow Wee told Agence France-Presse.

If convicted of the offence under Section 376(1) of the Penal Code, the father of two, who was born in China but now has Malaysian citizenship, faces up to 20 years in jail and caning.

"She is traumatised but she is coping, plus she is still training for the upcoming Olympics as part of the aquatics elite team," the lawyer said of the female athlete, who cannot be named for legal reasons. "The relevant organisations and associations are giving her full support - family and friends as well."

Local media said the diver was training with the Malaysian squad for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

According to the New Straits Times, this is the first major allegation of sexual abuse among the Malaysian sporting fraternity in more than two decades.

Diving is one of Malaysia's strongest sports. Last year, Pandelela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong claimed the country's first Olympic diving silver medal in the synchronised 10m platform category. The country also won all 13 diving gold medals at the South-east Asia Games in Kuala Lumpur in August.

Huang, who had a successful diving career, won silver at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games and was a gold medallist at the 2000 Diving World Cup in Sydney.

The judge allowed him bail, with a bond of RM50,000 (S$16,000) and subject to conditions, including surrendering his passport and reporting to a police station twice monthly.

The next hearing is set for Nov 6.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2017, with the headline 'Malaysian coach faces trial for raping diver'. Print Edition | Subscribe