Cheong gives Malaysia first gold ever at world aquatics meet
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Jun Hoong Cheong won Malaysia’s first gold medal ever at the world aquatics championships, upsetting the powerful Chinese team in women’s 10-meter platform diving Wednesday night.
Cheong surged to the lead in the third round and followed with her best dive of the competition, barely causing a ripple as she sliced through the water on a reverse 2½ somersault from the tuck position. Four of the seven judges gave her a perfect 10.
Si Yajie of China produced a higher score in the final round, but it wasn’t enough to overtake Cheong. The winner finished with 397.5 points, beating Si by a scant 1.5 points.
China’s other diver, Ren Qian, settled for the bronze at 391.95.
“The first few dives I didn’t even see the scoreboard, because I really, really needed to focus on every dive,” Cheong said. “Until the last dive, I came up and I saw my previous ranking was first, and I’m kind of shocked actually.”
Even though she led going to the final round, Cheong never expected to beat the Chinese, who traditionally dominate the diving competition. They have won five of nine events in Budapest.
“I didn’t really think that I would finish first,” Cheong said. “Maybe top three.”
Si was clearly disappointed at finishing second, having won three golds in her world championship career.
“The way I dealt with the splash was a little bit out of control,” she said through an interpreter. “This is regretful for me because I was only a few points from the gold medal.”
Ren claimed her third medal of these championships after taking gold in a pair of synchronized events.
Even after the medal ceremony, Cheong was still in a bit of a daze.
“I’m having goosebumps now,” she said. “I really don’t know what happened, but I really thank God for watching over me, because after so many years I’ve been in the platform competition and now it is an indescribable feeling for me. And world champion, my God.”