PETALING JAYA: Malaysia look set to finish a Diving World Series season without a medal for the first time.
Pandelela Rinong has to give the season finale in London this weekend a miss as she hopes to fully recover from a back sprain before the World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, in July.
Pandelela was supposed to compete in the women’s 10m platform individual and synchro with Nur Dhabitah Sabri – the only events where Malaysia stand a realistic chance to snatch a medal.
Dhabitah was the replacement for Cheong Jun Hoong – who has been sidelined since she went for an operation on her right knee after pulling out of the Indonesia Asian Games in August last year – in the women’s 10m platform synchro.
Jun Hoong-Pandelela achieved a first for Malaysia when they bagged a medal in all four legs of the prestigious series, where only the world’s top eight pairs will compete.
Their achievements included a gold-medal win in the Canada leg in Milton but that remains just a memory now as none of the seniors have managed to stand on the podium after four legs so far.
The closest finish for Pandelela-Dhabitah was a fourth spot in the first two legs in Sagamihara, Japan, and Beijing, China, in March.
Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia secretary Mae Chen said they wanted Pandelela to recover fully and focus on the world meet.
“It’s the more important championship as it will be the first qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She had a little twitch in her lower back after the third leg in Canada last month and we decided it’s better for her to stay back.
“She’ll be fine by the time of the world championships,” she said.
Pandelela should partner Dhabitah for the world meet, where the first three of seven Olympic slots in the four synchro events are up for grabs.
The top three pairs from the world meet will qualify first and the remaining four berths will be on offer in next year’s FINA Diving World Cup in Tokyo.
Besides Dhabitah, the other divers seeing action in London this weekend are Wendy Ng Yan Yee, Leong Mun Yee, Hanis Nazirul Jaya Surya, Jellson Jabillin and Muhd Syafiq Puteh.