KUALA LUMPUR: Ten years and still going strong. And here’s to many more for national diver Pandelela Rinong as she celebrated her 10th year in the national team this year.
Despite a decade in the game, the 24-year-old is still fired up to keep diving her best when the new season begins next month.
“I’ve been involved in diving for 10 years to be exact. It’s quite long but every year, I begin with more excitement than before,” said Pandelela, who received the 2016 women’s Olympian of the Year award on Thursday for winning a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in August.
“I look forward to every opportunity to compete. Every opportunity presents me with new experiences to learn and progress further in life.
“Diving is my passion. I will do it as long as I can.”
The Sarawakian also added that the bond among the divers in the national team had also kept her going.
“I spend time with my teammates every day. They are like my family. All of them look up to me and that keeps me going.”
It has been a mixed year for Pandelela. She struggled with a shoulder injury in the beginning of the year but ended the second half of the year strongly with some good performances.
“It’s a great year but not the best. There were some regrets but there were also some great moments,” said Pandelela.
She bagged a bronze in the 10m synchronised event together with Cheong Jun Hoong at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in July after her struggle with the shoulder injury.
She went on to defend her 10m platform gold at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August and pocketed another in the team event with junior Gabriel Gilbert Daim.
At the World Diving Grand Prix in Kuala Lumpur in October, Pandelela teamed up with Leong Mun Yee to win gold in the women’s platform synchro. Malaysia last won the gold in 2011 in Germany.
In her last assignment this year, she bagged the women’s 10m platform individual gold at the Australian Diving Grand Prix in Gold Coast last month.
“I won the gold in my favourite 10m event in Australia. It’s special because I last won it at the 2012 Canada GP,” she said.
Her impressive show in the second half of the year has motivated Pandelela to raise the bar next year when she competes at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, in April and the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, in August.
“I’m also aiming to do well in all the Diving World Cup and World Series. I’m looking forward,” added the Sports Management final-year student, who is hoping to graduate from Universiti Malaya (UM) next year.