Pandelela Rinong in a file photo. She scored a five-dive total of 368.50 points behind China’s Liu Huixia in the Beijing leg of the Diving World Series.
PETALING JAYA: A career-best performance in two years in the opening leg of the Diving World Series in Beijing will put Pandelela Rinong in the right frame of mind when she starts her campaign in the Dubai leg on Thursday.
Pandelela, who will compete in the 10m platform individual and the synchro with regular partner Leong Mun Yee, is looking for another breakthrough finish.
In Beijing, Pandelela and Mun Yee bagged the bronze in the synchro event before the former clinched a silver medal in the individual event and breaching the 360-point barrier for the first time in two years.
The reigning Commonwealth Games champion amassed a five-dive total of 368.50 points behind China’s Liu Huixia.
She had posted 369.75 and 372.15 scores in the Dubai and Beijing legs in 2012 but did not manage high scores last season.
Deputy Sports Minister Datuk M. Saravanan believes the diver, who failed to get a podium finish in Dubai last year, is making inroads ahead of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Incheon Asian Games later in the year.
Pandelela won the country’s first ever gold medal in diving at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games and was the silver medallist at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010.
“She has a good chance to retain her Commonwealth Games title but must work harder to overcome the China divers in the Asian Games.
“It is a good start to the season for Pandelela but she must aim for priority competitions. She is slowly regaining her form and this is a good sign,” said Saravanan at the Youth and Sports Ministry on Monday.
“We are one of the best diving nations in the world but I hope others in the team will also make an impact soon.
“Pandelela has been consistently winning medals in international meets but we also want to groom others to become world class divers.”
Huixia, along with Mexican Alejandra Orozca, Ukrainian Yulia Prokopchuk and Canadian Roseline Filion will be Pandelela’s main challengers in Dubai, which is the second of six legs confirmed in the series.
Pandelela, a two-time bronze medallist with Leong Mun Yee in the World Championships, grabbed attention at the 2012 London Olympics by winning a bronze in the platform event.
Except for Pandelela and Mun Yee, the others will find it tough making headway in the high-level meet. The women’s team is strong but not the men’s squad following the retirement of Olympians Bryan Nickson Lomas, Yeoh Ken Nee and Huang Qiang.
The others competing in Dubai are Myanmar SEA Games triple gold medallist Ooi Tze Liang and Ahmad Amsyar Azman – men’s 3m springboard synchro, Cheong Jun Hoong and Wendy Ng (women’s 3m springboard synchro).