PETALING JAYA: Expectations were high on divers Pandelela Rinong-Leong Mun Yee delivering Malaysia’s first medal but they failed to perform to their true capability.
The highly experienced pair did badly to finish last out of the eight competitors in the women’s 10m platform synchro final at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
At the start of the competition, the duo from China was the sure bet for the gold while Canada and Malaysia were favourites to stand on the podium.
And it seemed to be going that way after the first two rounds but our pair’s strongly over-rotated execution in the third combination, scoring only 54.90 points, saw them tumbling from third to seventh.
Mun Yee struggled again on the fourth attempt which saw them earning 64.32 points to slip to eighth.
In the final dive, Pandelela failed to make a clean entry and as a result of these three mistakes, Malaysia finished an unthinkable last.
Malaysia had finished third and second at the world championships in this event in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
At the 2016 Rio Games, Pandelela partnered Cheong Jun Hoong to a silver and she will now have to wait until Aug 4 for the chance to become the first Malaysian female athlete to win three medals at the Olympics.
The 28-year-old Sarawakian was also a bronze medallist in the 10m platform individual at the 2012 London Games.
For 36-year-old Mun Yee, yesterday was her only chance to bag the elusive medal in her fifth Olympics appearance, a Malaysian record.
“We were doing well in warm-up but not during competition. I wanted to get a medal in my last Olympics but it’s not just our day,” said Mun Yee, who had competed in Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Meanwhile, Pandelela said they did their best but luck deserted them.
“We went into action without any pressure as we are used to such conditions but during the dive, it just went wrong slightly,” said Pandelela.
Team manager Mae Chen said the disappointment of not being able to contribute the first medal was felt by the whole diving team.
“It’s unfortunate. We were off to a good start (after the first two attempts) but fumbled in the next dives. They have been training well at home and in Tokyo. Probably they wanted to deliver so badly and that’s when mistakes happen,” she said.
Chen Yuxi-Zhang Jiaqi blew their opponents away to extend China’s winning streak to six Games.
The teens were in another league throughout the five-dive competition to finish with 363.78 points, more than 52 ahead of second-placed Jessica Parratto and Delaney Schnell of the United States.
Mexico’s Gabriela Garcia and Alejandra Loza performed a solid final dive to take bronze with 299.70 points.