KUALA LUMPUR: Pamg Joheng could not stop smiling when his dream was realised yesterday – his daughter, national diving queen Pandelela Rinong, is now a graduate.
Two-time Olympic medallist Pandelela, 25, received her Bachelor of Sports Science from Universiti Malaya (UM) after more than five years of juggling her training and studies.
The inaugural UM Olympian Fund scholar enrolled as a student after she became the first Malaysian female medallist to take bronze in the women’s 10m platform individual at the London Olympics in 2012.
The Sarawakian has also won medals at the Diving World Series and Asian Games.
“Education is important and I wanted that for my children,” said Pamg, 52, who flew in from Sarawak on Monday with his wife Hartini Lamin, 50, and children Pardika Indoma, 27, Pici Parnia, 20, and Parcelia Renyelia, 18.
“We are leaving on Wednesday so we will only celebrate when Pandelela comes home.”
“I am thankful to everyone who has supported me as an athlete and a student,” Pandelela said, adding that she has a career in mind but would keep it secret for now.
“My focus is now on diving. Next year I will be back to competing as my injury is healing well.”
Asked whether winning her first Olympic medal or graduating was a greater accomplishment, she said both are too different to compare.
National hockey star Mohammad Fitri Saari, national floor ball player Cheah Pei Yi, badminton player Erica Khoo Pei Shan and futsal player Nurul Atiqah Zaifulizan were among those who graduated with a Bachelor of Sports Science yesterday.
The convocation ceremony that started on Saturday saw a total of 5,279 graduates receiving their respective degrees from UM.
Mohammad Fitri, 25, said studying was mentally tough while sports was physically taxing.
“It was tough juggling both for the last six years but earning a degree is worth the effort,” he said.
His parents, Saari Zakaria, 58, and Asiah Abdullah, 55, said he was the only one of five siblings to graduate.
Nurul Atiqah, 22, suffered a stroke two years ago.
She channelled her energy into studying, saying that she hoped to represent Malaysia again soon.
Cheah, 23, also represents her home state of Penang in taekwondo.
She graduated with a distinction, saying that her secret to success was never leaving studies to the last minute.
See full report in StarEducate this Sunday.
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