SPORTS

Dream ends for Malaysian teen

The Olympic adventure of Malaysian youngster Bryan Nickson came to a heartbreaking end yesterday when the youngest competitor in Athens missed a spot in the men’s 10-meter platform semifinals by four points. The pint-sized diver, who looks younger than his 14 years, carried his country’s flag in the opening ceremony, but after two weeks awaiting his moment of Olympics glory, he placed 19th, with the top 18 of 33 competitors qualifying for today’s semifinal. «I’m disappointed that I didn’t qualify for the semifinal,» said Nickson, who stands 1.38m and weighs just 30 kilos, through team manager Edwin Chong, who acted as interpreter. «I feel I can do better. I’m happy to be here. It’s a dream to be at the Olympic Games.» Nickson was talent-scouted by a state official during a visit to his school in Kuching when he was 8 years old, and he made it to the Olympics with a great show at the China Open in April, which was just his third international event. But over the past two weeks, the tiny youngster has looked out of place among the other more mature divers at the Olympic Aquatic Center. And despite the crowd getting behind him in yesterday’s preliminaries, he admitted that he was nervous standing alone on the platform. Apart from carrying the flag and training, the Olympics of the boy who was named after former Manchester United and England captain Bryan Robson has been spent playing soccer games on computer back at the athletes village. But the high point has been that he has got to meet his idol, world platform champion Alexandre Despatie. «I meet him every day up and down the tower,» said Nickson. «I was too shy to speak to him. He has lots of power in his dives,» said Nickson of 19-year-old Despatie, who placed second in the preliminaries, behind Mathew Helm of Australia. (AFP)