PETALING JAYA: Tokyo Olympics medal hopefuls Pandelela Rinong-Leong Mun Yee were served a reminder to not take anything for granted after tumbling out of medal contention at the Diving World Cup.
Pandelela-Mun Yee were easily the most experienced pairing who took part in the women’s 10m platform synchro final field of 12 finalists but they could not hold on to the momentum as they finished fourth with 288.36 points at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre yesterday. The pair led after the first three dives but their synchronisation fell apart as their rivals nailed the crucial big dives.
Pandelela-Mun Yee were still in bronze medal position after earning 62.40 points before the final dive but whatever medal hopes they had disappeared after only taking 58.56 in the last jump.
The pair, silver medallists at the World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea two years ago, allowed Germans Christina Wassen-Tina Punzel to snatch the bronze with 292.86.
Pandelela-Mun Yee must be ruing a missed opportunity to win their first World Cup medal as a pair but it’s also a timely jolt for the duo to work on their consistency or else return empty handed from Tokyo in July.
They know it will be tougher when they return to the same pool for the Olympics in July as China will be there. China only sent the women springboard divers to compete in the meet.
“We missed out on a medal but I am happy to get the competition feeling back after no competition for so long, ” said Mun Yee, who is competing in her ninth World Cup campaign.
“I think the gap is not big between the top five in the world but we got some work to do, ” she admitted.
Canadians Meaghan Benfeito-Caeli McKay showed they are shaping up to be a strong challenger to China’s dominance in the women’s platform events at the Olympics by coming back from fifth after the first three dives to take gold with 305.94 points.
The Canadian pair got their act right in the last two dives, scoring 69.30 and 74.88 to become the first non-Chinese pair to win the event in two decades.
How the tables have turned as the Canadians had missed out on an early Olympics spot when they finished fourth behind Britain, Malaysia and China at the world meet in Gwangju - the last major competition before Covid-19 started to spread around the globe.
Britain’s new combination of Lois Toulson-Eden Cheng Eden were rewarded for their consistency with a silver with a total of 302.88 points.
Joining China, Malaysia, United States, Canada, Britain, Germany and hosts Japan in the elite eight-nation field for the Olympics in the event is Mexico after their divers Alejandra Orozco-Gabriela Garcia finished fifth with 286.56 points.