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Young Pandelela sets herself lofty ambitions


PANDELELA Rinong may be the youngest in the women’s Olympic diving competition but she is aiming high in her maiden appearance.

The 15-year-old, who is also the youngest athlete in the 33-member Malaysian contingent, hopes to put to good use a new dive routine in the 10m platform individual competition on Aug 20 to help her break into the top 18 semi-finals.

No Malaysian diver has qualified for the semi-finals at the Olympics and Bryan Nickson came close to doing so when he finished 19th in the men’s individual 10m platform in Athens four years ago.

Pandelela’s highest routine since she was roped into the senior diving squad one year ago was a two-and-a-half backward somersault.

Rinong may be the youngest in the women’s Olympic diving competition but she is aiming high in her maiden appearance

But the Sarawakian has stepped up to three-and-a-half backward somersault in training in Kunming with the Beijing-bound diving squad one month ago.

The other Malaysian divers in the Beijing Games are Leong Mun Yee, Elizabeth Jimie and Bryan Nickson.

“My coach (Li Lijie) wanted me to move to the higher difficulty. I started to learn the new dive when we were training in China. I’m still not as good as the experienced divers but I have improved a lot compared to when I first started,” said Pandelela.

The 1.48m tall diver felt that she stood a good chance to get into the semi-finals if she could hold her consistency in the preliminary round.

Pandelela has been soaking up the atmosphere at the Athletes Village and just cannot wait for the competition to begin.

“My competition only starts later but I occupy my time by surfing the Internet and watching movies when I’m not training,” she said.

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