PETALING JAYA: Tokyo could be the swansong Olympics for Pandelela Rinong, who has given 12 years of service to the national diving team.
And topping Pandelela’s wish list for the New Year is a memorable outing in her fourth Olympics come August.
Judging from her performance at the World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, in July, Pandelela has a strong shot of pulling off what no Malaysian woman athlete has done – win medals in three straight Olympics.
Pandelela partnered Leong Mun Yee to take silver in the women’s 10m platform synchro at the world meet, which ensured Malaysia a quota slot for the Olympics.
This is the first time she has qualified so early for the Olympics in the 10m platform synchro event. She also placed fifth in the 10m platform individual.
Pandelela made her Olympic debut in Beijing in 2008 at the age of 14. But it was in London four years later that she etched her name in the history books as the nation’s first female Olympic medal winner – taking bronze in the women’s 10m platform individual.
In Rio de Janeiro four years ago, Pandelela dived to a silver with Cheong Jun Hoong in the women’s 10m platform synchro event.
“Tokyo 2020 is another milestone and I want to achieve something special in my diving career. It could be my last Olympics, therefore I want to prepare hard and give my all for it!
“The expectations are high and honestly, it’s not easy. But I want to have some breakthrough in my fourth Olympics. After that, I would like to rest and travel to the rest of the states that I have never been to and new countries, ” said the Sarawak-born diver.
It is not getting any easier for Pandelela, who is 26 this year, to juggle between the synchro and individual events. Her partner Mun Yee turns 36 this year.
Maintaining her fitness is on top of her mind, given the demands of diving at the highest level, where she is looking at doing a maximum of 25 dives.
“Mun Yee and I have been training hard to maintain our overall fitness level as we are not getting any younger. As each of us strive to improve ourselves, this will also motivate and inspire each other to be better in training and competition, ” added Pandelela, who spent her Christmas holiday with her family in Sarawak.
The diving team now take a short break but will resume training for the new season.
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