PETALING JAYA: Will Malaysia land the first of their three-medal target in the Tokyo Olympics today?
It’s possible as the 28-year-old Pandelela Rinong and Leong Mun Yee, 36, are ready to deliver when they take the plunge for Olympics glory at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre.
The veteran duo carry the hopes of the nation on their shoulders when they compete against familiar foes China and Canada in the synchronised 10m platform.
This event, which saw Pandelela and Cheong Jun Hoong winning silver in Rio five years ago, is seen again as a better bet than the individual event to secure at least one targeted medal from the sport.
Pandelela is already accustomed to standing on the Olympics podium, having also accomplished the feat in the 10m platform individual in London 2012, but for Mun Yee, it’s now or never.
At the 2012 London Games, Mun Yee and Pandelela entered the fray with plenty of expectations, but they ended up in seventh placing. She was then not selected for the 2016 edition.
Just when everyone thought it was over for Mun Yee, she stayed on to prove her critics wrong.
She nailed a couple more medals at both the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in 2018 and subsequently regained her place to be first choice partner to Pandelela.
Mun Yee teamed up with Pandelela to win their first ever silver medal at the 2019 Gwangju world meet.
Former international Yeoh Ken Nee has no doubts that Mun Yee has what it takes to accomplish her unfinished business from London 2012 today with Pandelela.
“By appearing in her fifth Olympics tomorrow (today), she’s already a winner,” said Ken Nee, who retired after qualifying for the 3m springboard individual final in 2012 London.
“But I’m confident she will go all the way to win the medal with Pandelela.
“The women’s platform synchro has been Malaysia’s forte ever since Pandelela and Mun Yee first won the World Championships bronze in 2009 (in Rome).
“It’s nice to see the two of them still around after winning almost everything that the world diving has to offer, except the Olympics. Pandelela did it with Jun Hoong in Rio, and now it’s Mun Yee’s moment.
“It’s just amazing to see how determined Mun Yee is. Not everyone has the drive to compete in five Olympics.
“But it’s easy to understand why she persisted... she always wanted an Olympics medal all her life.
“She has waited nine years for it, I really hope to see her succeed!”
Following the retirement of Ken Nee, Mun Yee is the only diver left from the pioneer group that was identified and trained for the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.