By John Isaac
THOUGH this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games has been postponed following the Covid-19 pandemic, national diving queen Pandelela Rinong Pamg is determined to win the first Olympic gold medal for Malaysia.
She qualified for both the 10m platform individual and synchronised event — the Tokyo Olympics have been rescheduled to early next year. It will be her fourth Olympics appearance.
She has taken part in the Beijing, London and Rio Games. She won a bronze medal in London in 2012 and a silver medal in Rio in 2016.
Pandelela, who last saw action in March this year when she grabbed a silver with compatriot Leong Mun Yee in the 10m platform synchro at the Montreal World Series, is certainly on the right track in keeping herself positive as diving competitions may not return to the calendar for a lengthy period.
With the Tokyo Games postponed until next year, and the fate of the World Cup still in the balance, it is going to be a very long road for national divers.
Speaking to Tribune Sports from her home in Kuala Lumpur, the Bidayuh star said during the movement control order (MCO), all she did was stay and train at home, going out when necessary, taking all necessary precautions.
“I am keeping my determination high to do my best in Tokyo next year,” she enthused.
Pandelela said she had no idea when training would resume. “For now, I want to urge all Malaysians, especially Sarawakians, to stay home to flatten the curve of Covid-19, and only then I can talk about Olympics with ease.”
“Let’s focus on our part, by taking care of our hygiene and not being selfish, don’t spread the virus by getting infected or infecting others.
“It’s a responsibility that we have to shoulder, have some empathy and pity the front-liners, otherwise the MCO will have to start all over again, and more industries will suffer losses. That’s my hope and wish for now,” she added.
She explained that usually around this time, she would be overseas, typically in China, preparing for the Diving World Cup, the last major competition before the Olympics.
“Since the situation has changed, I do feel stressed as my future plans have been disrupted. I empathise with many athletes, who have made it this far just like me, and now having to prepare longer, worrying that it might affect our mental and physical state.
“But on the other hand, I am glad as health and safety are equally important for athletes. It’s also a good opportunity for us to improve,” she said.
“All I can advice to you is to live in the present, worry not about the things we can’t control, be kind, take good care of yourself, and pray for the world.”
The three-time Olympian has more reasons to do well after Fina, the world governing body for aquatics, highlighted some of her best dives from the previous editions of the World Championships.
The 27-year-old has remained one of the world’s elite divers for more than a decade.