Humble Cheong vows to continue hard work

Cheong Jun Hoong is ready to start all over again for next month's home SEA Games, as "winning the world champion title doesn't make me special among other competitors".
Cheong Jun Hoong is ready to start all over again for next month's home SEA Games, as "winning the world champion title doesn't make me special among other competitors".

KUALA LUMPUR • Moments after touching down in Malaysia yesterday, newly crowned world diving champion Cheong Jun Hoong declared that she aims to "keep winning".

Saying that her feat in clinching the 10m platform title at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest last Wednesday was now "history", Malaysia's first diving world champion said she was ready to start all over again.

"My victory in Budapest will count for nothing. It's in the past... It will take a lot more hard work to become a champion again. It's back to zero but I hope to continue winning," the 27-year-old told a press conference after returning to a hero's welcome from fans and top officials, including Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Cheong will not have to wait too long for her next competition.

The Perak native is preparing to make her eighth SEA Games appearance at the Aug 19-30 Kuala Lumpur Games. And she is keen to add to her Games haul of six golds, one silver and three bronzes.

"The Kuala Lumpur SEA Games next month is a new competition. Winning the world champion title doesn't make me special among other competitors," she was quoted as saying by the Malay Mail.

"The great contender in the next month's Games is me. But I don't underestimate other countries as well. Each competition is a new challenge but my target is definitely gold."

The springboard specialist was entered for the platform individual event in Hungary because she was undergoing rehabilitation for a back injury.

Platform diving does not put as much stress on the joints and back as the springboard. The switch in events worked wonders when the unranked Cheong upset the world No. 1 and No. 2 divers, China's Si Yajie and Ren Qian, for the gold medal.

She hinted that she may continue with the platform discipline, given her circumstances.

"It's going to be difficult for me to recover 100 per cent," she said.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2017, with the headline 'Humble Cheong vows to continue hard work'. Print Edition | Subscribe