Time on divers Pandelela and Dhabitah’s side to arrest dip in form


PETALING JAYA: Divers Pandelela Rinong and Nur Dhabitah Sabri can forget about winning a medal at the World Championships ‑ if their current poor form is anything to go by.On Friday, Pandelela-Dhabitah failed to defend the gold in the women’s 10m platform synchro event, which was won last year by Pandelela-Cheong Jun Hoong, in the third leg of the FINA Diving World Series in Montreal, Canada, yesterday.

In fact, the duo displayed their worst performance this season to finish sixth in the seven-pair field.

The World Series is part of their preparation for the world meet in Gwangju, South Korea, in July.

They amassed 285.00 points from five attempts and their scores were lower than their two fourth-placing results in the Sagamihara (Japan) and Beijing (China) legs earlier. The 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games bronze medallists posted 302.65 in Sagamihara and 305.76 in Beijing.

Even if they break the 300-point barrier, it will not be good enough to fight for a top-three position in any major competition.

North Korea’s Kim Mi-rae-Jo Jin-mi overcame a 6.45 point deficit behind leaders Meaghan Benfeito-Caeli McKay of Canada in their last dive to win their country’s maiden gold with a 329.70 total.

What made the North Koreans’ victory more impressive was that Mi-rae pulled off the feat without her regular partner Kim A-rim, whom she had won silver with in the first two rounds of the season.

Benfeito-McKay settled for silver on 328.47 while the fancied Chinese duo Lu Wei-Zhang Jiaqi failed in their bid to make it three wins in a row this season after chalking up 320.64 to finish third.

The good news is that Pandelela and Dhabitah still have time to get things right when they compete in the next World Series legs in Kazan, Russia (May 10-12) and London, England (May 17-19).

Pandelela-Dhabitah are hoping to seal an early ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by doing well at the world meet, where the first three of seven Olympic slots in all the four synchro events are up for grabs.

The remaining four berths will be on offer in next year’s FINA Diving World Cup in Tokyo.

Hosts Japan are assured of automatic qualification in all the synchro events.