Sunday September 16, 2012
Making waves in schools
By JEANNETTE GOON, AMANDA CHIN and THAM WEE NIE
After taking home the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics, Pandelela dives into school visits to inspire students to excel in sports.
NOT only does Pandelela Rinong Pamg make waves in the pool, she does it with her appearance as well.
At SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (4) in Petaling Jaya, 1,000 eager ears awaited the Malaysian diving queen’s talk.
“She inspired us the moment she set foot in the school compound,” said Yiew Xiu Ning.
The 15-year-old noted that there was an aura about the diver that made the students have immediate respect for her.
Muhammad Ariff Badrul, 17, agreed, stating that even just setting eyes on Pandelela was “motivation in itself, an embodiment of inspiration”.
Pandelela was at the school to give a motivational talk on participating in sports and one particular piece of advice she gave struck a chord with the audience.
“At the Olympics, my first dive was not so good. But the only thing I could do was just forget about it.
“We cannot overwrite what has happened but we can move forward. Never give up. Although there may only be one chance to win, you must fight for it.
“If you lose, try again. If you win, remember your background. Keep your feet on the ground and stay humble,” she said.
Impressed with her win, 14-year-old Muhammad Hakim Sutton said, “She won a medal at the age of 19. She made me believe that if she can do it, so can others.”
He said that her speech had motivated him to pursue his dream of becoming an Olympic-worthy tennis player and bring glory to Malaysia.
Football player Joel Jeremiah Anthony, 16, also derived inspiration from her brief speech.
“I want to live out my dream of becoming the captain of the national team so that I can bring pride to my nation like she did,” he shared.
Just like a celebrity’s anticipated arrival, the students waited with bated breath for Pandelela to show up.
“We lurked behind staircases and waited 40 minutes to meet her. When we saw her, we ran towards her!” said Vanessa Dorville, 16.
“It was a priceless experience. She shows true humility, has a good sense of humour and is so down to earth! She has inspired me to try diving,” said Tan Zhen Sheng, 15.
Meanwhile Ong Han Ying, also 15, proudly showed off the RM10 note he had asked Pandelela to sign.
“I’m proud that I have an autograph from her which I can carry wherever I go!” he said.
According to Fememas Club chairman Lee Hui Seng, Pandelela was visiting schools in order to give back what she earned.
“She’s here to share her success story. Who knows? One of these students may be a champion diver one day,” he said.
Lee, who was once the school’s parent-teacher association vice chairman, plans to get other Malaysian athletes to participate in this sort of activity.
“They can share motivational tips with the students and perhaps one of them may grow up to be the next Pandelela or Datuk Lee Chong Wei,” he said.
Explaining her interests in making the school visits, Pandelela said, “After the Olympics, there were many students who tweeted that they wished to see me in person.”
She added that being in schools brought back many childhood memories.
“I feel more secure in this kind of environment,” she said, comparing the experience to other events that she had attended.