KUALA LUMPUR: Pandelela Rinong is ready to set off fireworks in China!
The 19-year-old national diver plans to usher in the Year of the Snake with a simple dinner with the rest of her 15 team-mates before letting off firecrackers in Dali.
Pandelela and her team-mates are in China for a six-week training before she competes in the opening leg of the FINA Diving World Series in Beijing from March 15-17.
It will be Pandelela’s first international assignment since becoming the country’s first diver – and the youngest ever – to win an Olympic medal when she bagged a bronze in the women’s 10m platform.
Pandelela said coach Yang Zhuliang had promised to purchase firecrackers for them to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
“We arrived here on Wednesday. Everything is okay except for the cold weather, which we are still trying to get used to. We did some light training and tested the pool,” said Pandelela via an audio chat yesterday.
“I can see some decorations are already up to usher in the Chinese New Year here but I think it’ll be grander at the city centre. We’re quite far from the town, actually.
“I’ll join in the Chinese New Year celebrations with my friends and coaches here. Although we still have to train on the first day of the Chinese New Year, our coach has promised to buy some firecrackers for us to play and have fun at night!”
But Pandelela knows that once the revelry is done and dusted, she’ll have to overcome her rustiness and nervousness to make a splashing start to the year at the World Series in Beijing.
She has not competed in any tournaments since the Olympic Games euphoria. She was registered for the Asian Championships and the World University Games last year but withdrew with a right ankle injury.
She was also busy attending the many functions held to honour her achievements. Thanks to her, Malaysia finally won a medal in a sport other than badminton for the first time in the Olympics.
“Yes, I do feel nervous thinking about my first competition after the Olympic Games ... it’s been quite a while,” she admitted.
“Everything, however, has been planned out for me this year. I’m now training hard to make sure that I get off to a good start in my first tournament of the year in Beijing. I want to do well just like in the past and continue to make Malaysia proud.”
In Beijing, Pandelela will compete in the platform individual, where she finished second overall last season and she will also partner Leong Mun Yee in the snychro event.
The other legs of the World Series are in Dubai from March 21-23, followed by Edinburgh (April 19-21), Moscow (April 26-28), Guadalajara (May 17-19) and Mexico City (May 24-26).
She will also compete in two main events in July – the World University Games (Kazan, Russia) and the World Championships (Barcelona).