PANDELELA Rinong went one up on her achievement at the last Olympics when she partnered Cheong Jun Hoong to win a historic silver medal for Malaysia at the Rio Games. Now, she’s pumped up to go one better in her favourite event on Wednesday.
The medal was historic in many ways. It was the first silver medal for Malaysia in any game outside of badminton. It was the first silver for our women. And it was won on Aug 9 – the very same date that the 23-year-old Pandelela won her bronze four years ago.
In her debut in London four years ago, the Sarawakian became the first Malaysian woman to win a medal when she clinched the bronze in the 10m platform individual.
At about 5pm on Tuesday at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre in Rio de Janeiro, she was on the podium again, this time for a silver in the women’s 10m platform synchronised diving.
It was Malaysia’s first medal in Rio de Janeiro.
The Malaysians had 344.34 points to finish behind China’s Chen Ruolin-Liu Huixia. The Chinese pair amassed a 354.00 total while Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito-Roseline Filion took the bronze with 336.18 points.
“Four years ago today, I won my first Olympics bronze medal. Today, I won my first Olympics silver medal …,” Pandelela wrote on her Twitter account.
She was especially elated over her latest success because of the pain she had been through.
“I have been plagued by injuries for one-and-a-half years. I’m just so happy we managed to win a silver,” she said, adding that the success would spur her to do better in the 10m platform individual on Wednesday.
Tuesday was only the third time that she had partnered the 26-year-old Jun Hoong in a tournament. The duo won the silver at the World Cup, also held at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre, in February.
Pandelela said they were very focused on all the five dives in a pool that had turned into a strange green from its brilliant blue a day earlier.
“We didn’t look at the scoreboard. We just concentrated on our dives,” she added.
The 10m platform synchro was Jun Hoong’s second event in Rio. On Sunday, she partnered Nur Dhabitah Sabri in the 3m springboard synchro. She made a mistake in the fourth dive that cost Malaysia a medal. In the end, they finished fifth.
“I didn’t dwell on that mistake. I told myself to forget the past. Every day is a new start.
“I thank God for this silver. And I also thank my coaches, friends and family for their support,” said Jun Hoong.
Jun Hoong will compete in the 3m springboard individual tomorrow.
The Aquatic Centre stole much of the limelight from the divers with its green water, sparking talk of algae and pollution. But Pandelela shrugged it off.
“Why does everyone ask about the water?” she said. “It’s really normal for an outdoor pool so it’s not a big deal for us.”
Pandelela and Jun Hoong will share the RM300,000 cash incentive and RM3,000 monthly pension under the National Sports Council (NSC) incentive scheme.
Under the scheme, a gold medal winner gets RM1mil and a monthly pension of RM5,000; and a bronze winner RM100,000 plus a RM2,000 pension.
NSC director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail said the two divers would share the incentive.
Asked if double medallist Pandelela would receive two pensions, he said she would only receive the higher of the two.