Diving set to become gold medal contender in Birmingham

Taking the plunge: Bronze medallists Pandelela Rinong and Nur Dhabitah Sabri in action during the 10m synchronised diving finals in Budapest. — AFP

KUALA LUMPUR: With a revision on the cards, diving is likely to become one of the few sports targeted to contribute at least one gold at the upcoming Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

This follows the encouraging performances by Pandelela Rinong and Nur Dhabitah Sabri at the just concluded World Aquatics Champion-ships in Budapest.

The divers look good to snatch a few medals with Pandelela and Dhabitah staying ahead of their Commonwealth Games rivals in their pet 10m platform events and also the mixed synchro disciplines which is included for the first time making for a total of 13 events.

In Budapest, Pandelela claimed bronze in the 10m individual platform behind two Chinese divers.

It was only her second individual medal at the world meet since coming in third in the same event in the 2015 edition in Kazan, Russia.

The Sarawakian also partnered Dhabitah to snatch her second bronze in the 10m platform synchro behind the United States and China.

Chef de mission Datuk Shahrul Zaman Yahya believes diving is a gold medal prospect.

“We initially did not set a gold medal target for diving. But from the world championships, we finished ahead of other Common-wealth countries.

“We hope they can repeat the performance in Birmingham,” he said after visiting the diving team in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Shahrul said the earlier assessment of seven gold medals comes from the national sports associations together with the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) and National Sports Council (NSC).

However, a revision is necessary with top woman squash player S. Sivasangari unavailable after suffering injuries following a car crash while shuttler Lee Zii Jia has pulled out saying he wants to focus on the World Championships in Tokyo later this year.

“We will revise the final target and will announce it during the flag-handing ceremony later this month.”

Pandelela and Dhabitah were also on the podium at the last Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in 2018.

Pandelela partnered Cheong Jun Hoong to win the 10m platform synchro while Dhabitah claimed two bronze medals with Leong Mun Yee in the 3m springboard synchro and 10m platform synchro events.

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