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Sunday March 18, 2012
By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: Malaysian sensation Pandelela Rinong made a superb comeback to grab bronze in the women’s 10m platform final at the opening leg of the FINA Diving World Series in Dubai.
Pandelela did not impress in the preliminary rounds and just made it to the top six final as the lowest scoring diver with 304.80 points.
But the 19-year-old Sarawakian showed her class in the final and produced two good early dives to go into medal contention.
Pandelela did not execute the first of the three optional dives well and dropped to fourth but she was back in the running after the next attempt.
Pandelela, who dived first, finished off with a 75.20 on the fifth and final dive and the bronze was her’s after Tonia Couch of Britain failed in her bid to overtake the Malaysian’s final tally of 369.75 points.
Tonia managed 347.25 points while Mexico’s Paola Espinosa, the world champion in 2009, came close to challenging the Chinese domination but had to settle for silver with 392.10 points.
Reigning world and Olympic champion Chen Ruolin of China made no mistakes in the final dive to narrowly clinch the gold with 395.70 points.
The women’s 10m platform contest not just saw the competition for medals going down to the wire but also witnessed Hu Yadan, the silver medallist at the world championships in Shanghai last year, failing to secure a podium finish.
Hu Yadan, who had faded to sixth place after missing her second dive, failed to recover from the setback.
The world series, comprising four legs, gathers the top eight-ranked divers for the individual event and top six pairs for the synchro disciplines based on the world rankings.
It was the second time that Pandelela secured a medal as she took a silver in the first leg of last year’s series in Moscow.
Pandelela, who just celebrated her birthday on March 2, was pleased to make her presence felt on the world stage again.
“I did not do well in the armstand routine. If I had pulled it off well, that would have been a big difference and perhaps could have landed the gold or silver.
“I’m happy anyway with what I got. It gives me confidence for the Olympics,” said Pandelela, who finished fifth in the world meet last year.
At press time, she was down to partner Leong Mun Yee in the 10m platform synchro competition .
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