Pandelela: Titles are not important to me

REUTERS/Antonio Bronic

By John Isaac

DIVING queen Pandelela Rinong has insisted that having a sense of achievement to excel in sports and bring glory to Sarawak and Malaysia as a whole are her motivation instead of being rewarded with titles such as a datukship.

Reacting to calls by many Sarawakians for her to be given a datukship, the 28-year-old Olympian told The Borneo Post that titles were not important for her as an athlete and also her family.

“Everyone wants to excel in their field and I am no different, although in my opinion obtaining titles is not my objective as an athlete. I however accept any rewards or incentives given by the government with gratitude,” she said when contacted today.

She said she accepted any reward or incentive given by the government with gratitude, seeing them as a blessing.

On the other hand, Pandelala felt that sponsorships were more important for her because as an athlete, she also needed to think about what she could do when she eventually retires one day.

“Sponsorship obviously will help athletes like me as it offers us additional income because it is part of our work as well. It will help us athletes when we retire,” she said.

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Pandelela had splashed her way to the gold medal in the women’s 10m platform at the recent International Swimming Federation/ Fédération Internationale de natation (FINA) Diving World Cup 2021 and test event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

She is the first Malaysian to win a gold medal at the international diving competition.

Sarawak Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah had received planty of flak last week when he poured cold water on calls to award her with a Datukship.

He said that while the state would find ways to recognise Pandelela for her achievement, a Datukship might not be the best thing for her.

He revealed that he had received many calls from people asking if the state would accord her with the title but he was concerned about how it could affect her.

“My reply was, she’s only 28 years old, don’t spoil her. I mean can you imagine someone in their 20s having a Datukship? It will be very difficult for her to interact normally outside when you have friends outside, they call you Datuk and things like that.

“I mean let her enjoy her life. The monetary contribution from the state government will come, but we do not want to highlight it too much. We would want her to bring us more fame and for her to enjoy the sport that she loves,” he said.

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