In Part 2 of Prestige Malaysia‘s August 2021 cover story, we hear from Jeremiah Loo Phay Xing, Leong Mun Yee, Pandelela Rinong, and Lee Zii Jia.
Omega has been recording Olympic dreams since 1932. At this historic moment in time, we record the journey of our Malaysian athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics through the lens of Annice Lyn. Extraordinary individuals of great fortitude reveal the sacrifices, challenges, and glory they hope to achieve in their lifetimes.
Read Part 1 here.
Jeremiah Loo Phay Xing
Artistic Gymnastics: Men’s Artistic Individual All-Around
Also making his Olympic debut, Jeremiah Loo had only a very short window to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics. “I found out that I was participating in the Games just a month before the event”.
Despite that, the 23 year old who is the first Malaysian male gymnast to qualify for the Olympics since Ng Shu Wai in 2004, admits that he is excited to be amongst the world’s greats and describes his experience in Tokyo as one for the books.
Winning gold in Pommel Horse at the 2017 South East Asian Games, the Penangite who is trained by his coach Ng Shu Liang – Shu Wai’s brother – recalls how different it was training for the Olympics this time around due to the pandemic restrictions. “Because of the quarantine based training, we are not allowed to go out from training centre at all.”
“The pandemic really affects me as I can’t reunite with my family, but at least there is the internet to stay connected,” he adds.
He admits that seeing athletes training in-person after two years is a surreal experience and he can’t help but to feel a little nervous. “There is a lot of pressure, but pressure is the reason that keeps me moving forward. It motivates me to do my best.”
With 15 years of effort put into gymnastics, there was a moment in 2019 where Jeremiah almost quit his dream due to a shoulder injury, but after a year of recovery, he was back in training and it eventually allowed his Olympic debut dreams to come true. Looking ahead, Jeremiah is setting his sights to qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris next.
Leong Mun Yee
Diving: Women’s Synchronised 10m Platform
Leong Mun Yee has been swimming since the tender age of two. In 2019, she made waves with Pandalela Rinong when they secured the silver medal in the women’s synchronised 10m platform at the World Championship, earning their place at the Olympics.
This year, the 36-year-old diver takes her final bow at Tokyo 2020 as the only Malaysian athlete to ever compete in five consecutive Olympic Games. Besides winning three medals at the World Championship, she is also the first female national diver to place at the Asian Games (2002). Mun Yee has also scored wins at the SEA Games and Commonwealth Games since her debut in 1998.
“The biggest challenges I faced on the road to Tokyo 2020 was its postponement and the pandemic,” Mun Yee shares. She describes it as the most prominent hurdle of her entire sporting career. During the MCO, she had to train at home and only resumed pool training in June 2020. “The pandemic affected my preparation because usually before a big competition like the Olympic Games, we train in an overseas training camp for about three months. This time we were unable to do so, and fewer international competitions led up to the games.”
Honoured to represent the country at the highest stage, Mun Yee keeps motivated by staying focused on her goal. To combat the immense pressure on her shoulders, the diver relaxes after training sessions with music and comedies with personal meditation sessions at night.
“My advice to younger athletes is never give up when you face difficulties or fail because we learn from our mistakes. Focus on having a goal and working towards it.”
Diving: Women’s 10m Platform, Women’s Synchronised 10m Platform
An Olympian through and through, this year would be Pandelela’s fourth Olympic outing and she has been training for this moment ever since the last Games.
The diver first represented Malaysia at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, finishing 27th in the 10m platform event, but this moment served as a stepping stone, helping her gain confidence for the 2010 Commonwealth Games where she earned her first gold.
Chosen as the flagbearer of the 2012 Summer Olympics, the historic year saw Pandelela become the first Malaysian female athlete to win an Olympic medal – bronze in 10m platform – and the first in any sport other than badminton. Gaining momentum, in 2016 the 28 year old Sarawakian won the silver medal with Cheong Jun Hoong at the Rio Summer Olympics for the 10m synchronised platform.
Training since the age of 14, Pandelela competes in two events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics – the Women’s 10m platform and Women’s Synchronised 10m platform – two sporting events she has taken part in all her life.
Lee Zii Jia
Badminton: Men’s Singles
Winning the 2021 All England Open Badminton Championship saw Lee Zii Jia dubbed the next Lee Chong Wei – especially after the latter’s retirement – but the shuttler is determined to craft his own legacy at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and to prove he isn’t just a one trick pony.
Competing in the Men’s Singles event, the career trajectory for the 23 year old is astoundingly bright and many see him as an athlete that will continue to bring glory to the country at future competitions. Playing competitively since the age of 13, the Kedah born is currently the 8th in the World Ranking for Men’s Singles and 3rd in World Tour Ranking for Men’s Singles.
(All images: Annice Lyn/Prestige Malaysia)
This cover story appears in Prestige Malaysia’s August 2021 issue. Read the full magazine for free on Magzter.
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