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Monday April 23, 2012

Pandelela and Mun Yee finish third overall in platform synchro

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Pandelela Rinong-Leong Mun Yee earned a timely psychological boost to their London Olympic aspirations after securing third overall in the women’s 10m platform synchro at the end of the FINA Diving World Series in Tijuana, Mexico.

Pandelela-Mun Yee finished fifth in the 10m platform synchro on Saturday to seal a top three overall for the first time in three seasons.

Pandelela-Mun Yee first made the cut for the prestigious series, an invitational event for the top eight ranked pairs in the world, in 2010 but never finished higher than fourth.

Pandelela-Mun Yee collected a total of 78 points to finish behind reigning world champions Chen Ruolin-Wang Hao of China (108) and Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito-Roseline Filion (84).

Good money: Leong Mun Yee (left) and Pandelela Rinong picked up US$6,000 for finishing third overall in the FINA World Diving Series.

Pandelela-Mun Yee started with a silver in Dubai and clinched a bronze in Beijing but finished fourth in Moscow last week.

The top three winners earned US$10,000, US$8,000 and US$6,000 respectively.

The encouraging performance from the Malaysian duo through the season put them on the right course to head to the London Olympics in August with optimism.

Pandelela-Mun Yee qualified for the synchro in the Olympics for the first time and will be out to make a strong push to make history by bagging the country’s first medal in diving.

On Saturday, Pandelela and Mun Yee picked up 314.88 points.

Ruolin-Wang Hao took the gold with a 350.88 total. Mexico’s Paola Espinosa-Alejandra Orozco garnered 338.37 points for the silver while Tonia Couch-Sarah Barrow of Britain grabbed the bronze with a 317.94 total.

Benfeito-Filion picked up 317.88 points to be placed fourth.

“Our performance was not so good compared to the previous rounds. My back is still giving me a bit of problem. I had no rest after travelling non-stop and it was hard for me to focus,’ said Pandelela, who had to return home straight from Moscow to receive her National Sportswoman Award on Tuesday before enduring another long journey to Mexico the next day for the final round of the series.

“But we have a chance to fight for an Olympic medal if we can improve our optional dives in the coming months.

“The Chinese are a class above the rest. The standard of the rest of the divers is quite close,” said Pandelela, who made history by clinching the overall title for the first time in the 10m platform individual on Friday.

Pandelela-Mun Yee’s next assignment will be the US Open in Fort Lauderdale followed by the Canadian Open in Montreal. The rest of the Malaysian Olympic-bound team will also be competing in both meets.

The US and Canadian Opens next month are part of the World Grand Prix Circuit and will be the last two competitions before the divers set up their training base in China for their last leg of preparation for the Olympics.

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