Diving: National divers Mark Lee, Timothy Lee and Ashlee Tan qualify for 2021 SEA Games

Diving: National divers Mark Lee, Timothy Lee and Ashlee Tan qualify for 2021 SEA Games

SINGAPORE – National divers and twins Mark and Timothy Lee thought they would have retired by the end of this year after the Olympics.

But after the Tokyo Games were postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the twins have another chance to fulfil their dream of competing there.

Despite the “big smack” on their plans, they remain on the right track after qualifying for next year’s SEA Games in Hanoi at the 11th Singapore National Diving Championships on Saturday (Dec 12).

Mark scored 354.55 in the men’s Open 3m springboard at the OCBC Aquatic Centre to comfortably hit the qualifying score of 325.50 and win gold ahead of his twin Timothy (332.90).

But Timothy, 26, said there are still things to improve on ahead of April’s Fina Diving World Cup, a qualifying meet for the July 23-Aug 8 Games.

He estimates that a score of about 380 is needed to reach the top 18 at the World Cup and qualify.

He told The Straits Times: “I was slightly disappointed because I felt some of my dives could’ve been better. Right now consistency is something I need to work on, especially in high-pressure situations.

“I have to work on stabilising my mental thought process as I go into competitions so that I can produce dives I’m capable of.”

The twins also will have to juggle training and school – Timothy is a final-year mechanical engineering undergraduate at the National University of Singapore while Mark is studying business at the Singapore Management University.

While Timothy managed to secure credit-bearing internships during summer vacations and will graduate next May, Mark has extended his studies by a year and will graduate in 2022 instead.

“It was quite a big smack to our plans because Mark and I are planners. We arranged our modules in preparation of the Olympics and these plans have been in place since we started university three years ago so a lot of adjustments had to be made,” Timothy said.

“But we thought about what we needed to do and we identified that we still want to go to the Olympics so we’ve done what’s needed to be done to help us be at our best when the qualifying period comes.”

In the women’s Open 3m springboard, Ashlee Tan, 20, also qualified for the SEA Games with a score of 242.05, just higher than the 241.25 needed, ahead of Fong Kay Yian (220.50) and Mira Dewan (190.80).

Tan, who made her SEA Games debut in 2015 on home soil, was pleased with her performance.

Ashlee Tan (left), part of Singapore’s 3m springboard synchronised duo, won the silver during the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 29, 2017. PHOTO: SINGAPORE SWIMMING ASSOCIATION

She said: “Today I came into the competition wanting to focus on doing the dives to the best of my ability.

“The past few weeks have been about working more on the consistency of my dives and not just being able to be consistent in training but also during competitions.”

Meanwhile, Tokyo-bound Jonathan Chan and partner Max Lee scored 296.64 in the men’s 10m synchronised platform. They were the only competitors in their event.

Chan had qualified for next year’s July 23-Aug 8 Olympic Games after winning the men’s 10m platform gold at the Asian Diving Cup last September.

The 23-year-old said the competition was a good warm-up for bigger meets next year.

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He added: “What I’ll be working on now is consistency of my dives. Because even if you train every day, sometimes things just go haywire and you get a bad dive on competition day.

“Now it’s about how to keep my dives consistently good and decrease the chances of a bad dive happening.”

This year’s event saw 98 competitors take part with safe distancing measures in place. Divers were segregated by event to prevent inter-mingling, and had to take their temperature and check in via SafeEntry before entering the venue.

The meet continues on Sunday with the age group events for boys and girls.