PETALING JAYA: Pandelela Rinong presented herself with a nice birthday present after splashing to bronze in her pet event at the Diving World Series opening leg in Montreal, Canada.
Pandelela, who turns 27 today, did not start well when she found herself in fifth place with 67.50 after the first dive in the women’s 10m platform individual final on Saturday.
The Sarawakian, however, recovered just in time with consistent displays to seal the bronze – her second medal earned in Montreal after taking the silver with Leong Mun Yee in the 10m platform synchro on Friday.
She finished the five-dive competition with 337.55 points while Russia’s Iuliia Timoshinina held on to silver with 347.40 points.
Three-time Olympic bronze medallist diver Meaghan Benfeito claimed her second gold in Montreal, recovering from a tough first dive that had her in fourth place to finish with 355.10 points.
The Canadian diver had partnered Caeli McKay to beat Pandelela-Mun Yee for the gold medal a day earlier.
It’s a timely birthday gift for Pandelela as she ended a five-year drought in the 10m platform individual at the Diving World Series stage.
The last time Pandelela bagged an individual medal was a bronze in the same event in Canada but in Windsor.
Pandelela was just relieved to start her first competition this year on a good note after finishing empty handed in last year’s competition.
Pandelela partnered Nur Dhabitah Sabri for the 10m platform synchro last year in the absence of Cheong Jun Hoong, who was recovering from knee operations. She only managed fourth place last year.
“I am just grateful to win this individual and synchro medals after not picking up anything in the Diving World Series last year, ” said Pandelela, who has qualified for both 10m platform individual and synchro at the Tokyo Olympics in July.
“I’m happy that there is progress from last year, thanks to my coach Li Rui, ”
Pandelela is not taking anything for granted despite the absence of Chinese divers, who were missing because of the travel restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
“It’s still tough considering this competition is only for the top six countries (for synchro) and the top eight divers (for individual) in the world, ” she said.
“Any of them can give us surprise and unexpected performance, ” added the two-time Olympic medallist.
Pandelela earlier advanced to the top-six final by winning the first semi-final group in 327.35 points. Benfeito was the other semi-final winner with 359.75 points.
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