SEPANG: National diver Pandelela Rinong Pamg is giving hope to at least win a silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio di Janeiro.
“I want the top three (medals). I hope to bring home silver. God willing, the gold, but it will be tough as Chinese athletes have dominated the sport,” she said soon after landing at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport yesterday.
Scores of Malaysians came to show support for the win and sought autographs from the 19-year-old at the airport lobby.
Pandelela's return to Malaysia from London was met with cheers and shouts of “Malaysia Boleh!” from fans and supporters.
The Bidayuh lass said it was “an honour” to be the first Malaysian woman to win an official Olympics medal and hoped that Malaysian youths, especially sport divers, would be inspired by her feat.
D. Gayatri, 15, skipped school for a chance to meet Pandelela and get a photograph. She said she was also a swimmer and plays badminton too.
“I want to be a national athlete like Pandelela,” she added.
Another fan S. Padmarajh, 28, said he had also turned up to welcome silver medallist Datuk Lee Chong Wei.
“We should be proud of our athletes. Every Malaysian who can be here should be here. I turned up for our hero, now I'm here to see the queen,” he added.
Thirty-eight students from Bukit Jalil Sports School turned up at the airport, accompanied by teacher Samsyul Hisyam and school officials.
“I was not surprised that Pandelela has reached such heights as she was exceptionally talented and determined, as well as a bright student,” Samsyul added.
Pandelela's parents, Pamg Joheng, 46, and mother Hartini Lamim, 44, who were also at the airport, said they were very proud of their daughter.
Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, who was at the airport to greet Pandelela, told reporters that he would take full responsibility for the national team's failure to meet its gold medal target at the London Summer Olympics.
“The diving event has developed. But we have to improve the current infrastructure and help them gain exposure,” he added.
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