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Pandelela_RinongKUALA LUMPUR: Outdoor competitions are not many but coach Yang Zhuliang has a comprehensive programe to ensure his divers are well-prepared for the World Championships, scheduled on July 19 - Aug 4 in Barcelona.

The world meet will be held at Piscina Municipal de Montjuic, which consists two outdoor pools, located on higher grounds, which has Olympics medalist Pandelela Rinong worried.

Zhuliang said Pandelela (pic) is the only medal prospect and she needs to be prepared accordingly.

"Bryan Lomas and Leong Mun Yee may not be in peak condition for the world meet as they are focused on studies while it will be an achievement if others make the final," said Zhuliang at National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Zhuliang said his 15-member squad will tentatively train in Dali, China, for two months pending approval from the National Sports Council.

The team, except for Bryan, plan to leave on Feb 1.

"The stint will help condition the divers, especially the newly promoted elite members. Some of the youngsters need to polish their basic platform diving skills," said Zhuliang.

"We have applied for a second trip but this time to Guangdong just before the world meet. It is an important stint as those selected will train at an outdoor facility."

Pandelela, a silver medallist at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, will compete in additional competitions ahead of the world meet as she is the only Malaysian qualifier for the six-leg World Series which begins in Beijing on March 15-17.

The elite squad are also down for the World Grand Prix event in Canada (May 2-5) and the United States (May 9-12) and also the World University Games, scheduled for July 6-17, in Kazan, Russia.

"The US Grand Prix is the most crucial as it is the only outdoor event on our schedule," said Zhuliang.

The China-born coach said competing outdoors is challenging because of the wind condition.

"The world meet will be held at a hilly area and divers will need to adapt with the wind speed and direction. It will not be easy," said Zhuliang.

- By Ajitpal Singh, New Straits Times


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