BUDAPEST • Malaysian diver Cheong Jun Hoong claimed a truly stunning win in the women's 10m platform individual final at the World Aquatics Championships in Hungary on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old became the nation's first diving world champion after chalking up 397.50 points to come out on top in a star-studded final field of 12 participants.
"My God, I'm a world champion. Of course it is a dream come true," she told The Star.
"It's unexpected and unbelievable."
Prime Minister Najib Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi joined Malaysians in celebrating her feat, tweeting their congratulations yesterday.
A surprise entry for the individual platform event, Cheong was ranked fourth after the first two dives, but moved to the top spot after she earned 81.60 points for her third attempt. She did not look back after that.
It was an unexpected comeback from the Malaysian, considering she was the seventh-ranked diver in the final, based on the results from the semi-finals stage.
I didn't even look at the scoreboard... after the last dive, when I came out and saw my top ranking, I was kind of shocked.
CHEONG JUN HOONG, who said her historic world title was a dream come true .
"I really didn't think that I would finish first. Maybe top three," said a smiling Cheong. "I didn't even look at the scoreboard because I really wanted to focus on every dive.
"After the last dive, when I came out and saw my top ranking, I was kind of shocked."
Victory was certainly sweet for the diver from Perak, who had partnered Pandelela Rinong to take bronze in the women's synchronised 10m platform on Sunday.
She also beat two top Chinese divers - Si Yajie and Ren Qian.
Si, the world champion in 2013 and the Rio Olympics silver medallist, settled for silver with 396.00 points.
Ren, the reigning Olympic champion, got the bronze with 391.95 points.
"I'm kind of disappointed with today's result," said the 16-year-old Ren. "Cheong did really well."
Si admitted that Cheong's performance was just beyond her expectation, saying: "My performance was normal, but I lacked a little luck today."
Ren was also beaten to the gold at the 2015 world championships in Kazan, where North Korea's Kim Kuk Hyang won it with her last dive. Kim was sixth on Wednesday with 360.00 points.
Pandelela, who got bronze in the event in Kazan, could manage only ninth place.
Cheong's sister, Jun Yeng, 24, said that after the world championships, the diver would be busy preparing for the SEA Games to be held next month on home soil.
"She will undergo training for the SEA Games as soon as she arrives in Kuala Lumpur on Monday," said Jun Yeng.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, XINHUA