PETALING JAYA: Pandelela Rinong came to the rescue just like she did three years ago by delivering the only medal for Malaysia in the Diving World Cup in Tokyo.
But this time it’s a valuable gold as the Sarawakian dived consistently to win the women’s 10m platform individual final at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre yesterday.
Her five-dive score of 355.70 saw her become Malaysia’s first-ever Diving World Cup champion. She will return to the same pool for her fourth Olympics campaign in July,
Pandelela, who was ranked fourth after the opening dive with a 67.50, stepped up with a 75.40 in her next attempt – a reverse back two and a half somersault dive – to grab the lead.
She then held on to the top spot and heading into her last dive, she had a 16-point advantage over her rivals.
Pandelela signed off with 68.80 to lift the gloom in the Malaysian camp.
Japan’s Matsuri Arai won the silver with 342.00 points while Canada’s Caeli McKay settled for the bronze (338.55).
The 28-year-old now has a complete set of World Cup medals to show in her illustrious career.
She bagged her first – a silver – when she paired up with Cheong Jun Hoong in the 10m platform synchro in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. In the 2018 edition in Wuhan, Pandelela won a bronze in the individual event.
Jun Hoong, who topped the preliminaries, surprisingly failed to make the final after finishing last among 18 divers in the semi-finals.
Her coach Yang Zhuliang said it was clear Jun Hoong, who is competing for the first time in three years, was still not ready for the physical demands of top-level competition.
“Her preparation has not reached the stage where she can compete in successive days. But it’s good to know early where we have gone wrong in order to prepare for the Olympics, ” said the Chinese coach.