Diving: Olympics are long-term target for S'pore diving

Timothy (left) and Mark Lee are two of the eight national divers who have met the qualifying scores for the Aug 19-31 SEA Games in Malaysia.
Timothy (left) and Mark Lee are two of the eight national divers who have met the qualifying scores for the Aug 19-31 SEA Games in Malaysia.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Singapore diving is set to blossom in the coming years, with concerted efforts from the Singapore Swimming Association's (SSA) officials to grow the sport.

William Lee, SSA vice-president of diving, said yesterday that there is a "long-term vision" for the aquatics discipline that goes beyond just doing well at SEA Games level, but also "to be a credible force on the international arena".

"Our ultimate goal is to be a consistent competitor at the Olympic level in the long term," added the 53-year-old.

To achieve that target, he hopes to increase the pool of competitive divers in Singapore to 60. There are now about 25 divers in the national development and elite squads, and the SSA has been conducting open trials to recruit more into its ranks.

"We don't just want to be competitive for two or four years; we want to be a consistent diving nation," he said. "We're trying to develop a solid core of divers and learn from Malaysia (in that aspect)."

Malaysia was the top diving nation at the 2015 SEA Games with eight golds and three silvers, while the Republic was second with three silvers and four bronzes.

Asked about medal targets for the Aug 19-31 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, however, Lee would only say: "Our target is to do the best we can. We did very well (in 2015) and we'll continue to try our best.

"We need to bear in mind that we are going to their home ground, so home advantage is something very significant that we cannot take lightly ...But we are preparing as best as we can to give our northern neighbours a run for their money."

Eight national divers have already met the qualifying marks for the Games - Ashlee Tan, Fong Kay Yian, Myra Lee, Freida Lim, Jonathan Chan, Joshua Chong and twins Mark and Timothy Lee.

They are likely to compete in four meets before the SEA Games: next month's Fina Diving Grand Prix in Puerto Rico, June's National Diving Championships here and the Asian Diving Cup in Macau, and the Fina World Championships in July.

The Lee twins, both newly appointed spexScholarship holders, won a silver medal in the 3m synchronised springboard event at the 2015 SEA Games.

The 23-year-olds are looking to at least match that result at this year's Games. Said the younger twin Mark: "I think (gold is) within reach, we've beaten the Malaysians (Ahmad Amsyar Azman and Ooi Tze Liang) twice in the past. It's definitely on the table and we won't say it's out of sight, but we're just doing our best."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2017, with the headline 'Olympics are long-term target for S'pore diving'. Print Edition | Subscribe