China's Olympic champion Chen Roulin (pic) will be one of national diver Pandelela Rinong's biggest threats at the Diving World Series in London this Friday. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: A tougher challenge awaits Malaysia’s top diver Pandelela Rinong when she returns to the scene of her biggest triumph in the third leg of the Diving World Series in London on Friday.
It was here – at the London Aquatics Centre – almost two years ago that Pandelela rose to the occasion to claim an Olympic bronze medal in the individual platform.
Pandelela has also been enjoying a rich vein of form lately, striking two silver medals in the individual event from the first two legs of the series in Beijing and Dubai.
It was also the first time that she had taken two silvers in the individual event in one season.
But her task has been made more difficult this time as Olympic champion Chen Ruolin is back in the fray and will compete for the first time this season in the London-leg of the World Series on April 25-27.
Regarded as China’s most prominent woman diver, Ruolin was unbeatable in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics, winning a total of four gold medals in the platform individual and synchro.
It’s not just one Chinese diver that Pandelela will have to contend with in the individual platform this weekend though. There is also reigning world champion Si Yajie.
The Chinese youngster was only 14 when she chalked up an upset win over Ruolin to triumph at the World Championships in Barcelona last year in what was only her first international major competition.
Pandelela has been performing well this season and the challenge will be for her to at least be the best in the world behind the two Chinese divers to keep her perfect run.
The reigning Commonwealth Games champion recorded her highest score in two years to clinch a silver in Beijing and followed it up with another decent show to finish second in Dubai.
National coach Yang Zhuliang hopes Pandelela can rise to the challenges on her return to London.
“There is no target for her but I think she wants to do well to get another podium finish,” said Zhuliang.
“She achieved her best score (368.50) in two years at the first leg in Beijing, only this time the competition is stronger with two Chinese divers in the fray.
“She will compete with the same set of dives which she is comfortable with.”
Pandelela will also be looking to make a splash in the 10m platform synchro with Leong Mun Yee.
Pandelela-Mun Yee underlined their credentials as a serious threat to China’s pairing of Ruolin-Li Huixia with commendable silver medal performances in the Beijing and Dubai legs.
The others competing in London are Myanmar SEA Games triple gold medallist Ooi Tze Liang, Ahmad Amsyar Azman, Cheong Jun Hoong and Wendy Ng.
Jun Hoong-Wendy could surprise their more illustrious rivals in London in the women’s 3m springboard synchro after finishing fourth in the previous leg in Dubai.
As for Tze Liang-Ahmad Amsyar, they are only competing to gain experience at the world stage.