KUALA LUMPUR – Former national diver, Leong Mun Yee (picture) hopes to see young athletes catch up quickly so as to continue her legacy in the future.
Not only that, Mun Yee, who officially retired after 27 years creating waves in the pool last Friday (Dec 31), said that young divers must be mentally strong to garner success in tournaments or multi-sports games.
“I expect more senior athletes to retire after 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Hopefully they (young athletes) could catch up.
“This is because the process to polish the diver is quite long before they could reach higher levels. It’s not something that is short-term but it takes a little longer to achieve results and I hope they won’t give up easily,” she told a press conference here, today.
Apart from Mun Yee, former world champion Cheong Jun Hoong ended more than two decades of involvement in the sport since 1999 when she officially announced her retirement yesterday (Jan 4).
In the meantime, Mun Yee, who plans to open an academy for kids aged five until 12 years old, is eyeing the National Aquatics Centre in Bukit Jalil here, as the first location of the academy, in June.
“I would like to set up in Bukit Jalil first as it offers the best facility and if everything goes smoothly, I plan to open the second one in Ipoh, Perak where I came from. Hopefully, I will get the support from the Youth and Sports Ministry as it involved a lot of processes and stages until I get to open my own academy,” she said.
The Ipoh-born former athlete further said that she decided to train those aged five until 12 in order to unearth raw talents.
“If you noticed, China starts to train their future divers very early, so I think we can start from those who aged five. Not only that, the diving academy is very rare here and additionally there are not many local coaches around,” she added.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Swimming (MS) secretary-general Mae Chen, who was really sad over the news, heaped praise on Mun Yee and described her as a diligent and fantastic diver in Malaysia.
“She never complained despite tired and injury. Every day immediately after the evening session she will head straight away for National Sports Institute to release the tension on her body,” she said.
Mun Yee, who started diving at 10, was among the most successful national divers, having bagged numerous medals, including a silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India, bronze at the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea and two golds at the 2017 KL SEA Games.