Thursday January 3, 2013
Pandelela stays focused on new challenges
By LIM TEIK HUAT
KUALA LUMPUR: The euphoria of winning the London Olympic bronze medal last year is now but a distant memory for national diver Pandelela Rinong.
Pandelela, who resumed training in Bukit Jalil after enjoying a one-week Christmas break in Kuching, is looking forward to new challenges this year and insisting that she is fully focused on diving.
Pandelelaís gutsy comeback to clinch bronze in the womenís 10m platform final in London was the countryís first Olympic medal in a sport other than badminton and turned her into an instant star.
She has since been showered with incentives and cash rewards but the 19-year-old Sarawakian, who also bagged the Female Olympian of the Year award recently, is determined to keep her feet planted firmly on the ground.
ďNothing has changed for me. Iím still the same Pandelela ... I have to start every competition from zero point and do my very best.
ďIíll approach every competition without being too over-confident ... Iíve always performed better this way,Ē Pandelela said when asked how she would handle the growing expectations since her Olympic exploits.
She has not competed since the Olympics in August. She was supposed to take part in the Asian Swimming Championships in Dubai last November and the Asean University Games in Vientiane the following month.
However, she pulled out of both meets after sustaining an ankle injury.
Pandelela said the injury no longer bothered her and was looking forward to making a comeback to competition in the first leg of the Diving World Series in Beijing from March 15-17.
Pandelela is the only Malaysian to have qualified for this yearís Diving World Series, which has expanded to five legs and is only for the top eight divers in the world.
However, her major assignments will be the World University Games in Kazan, Russia, from July 6-17 and the World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona from July 19-Aug 4.
ďOur focus is more on the World Aquatics Championships but the World University Games is also important to me as itís part of my scholarship commitment.
ďItís going to be a taxing July for my team-mates and me but itís something we have to learn to handle,Ē said the refreshed Pandelela, who savoured the rare moment she got to spend Christmas with her family.
ďItís been three years since I celebrated Christmas with my family in Sarawak. I enjoyed the break as I donít know if Iíll get the chance this year.Ē
Pandelela delivered two silver medals in the individual platform and the synchro with Leong Mun Yee for Malaysia at the last World University Games in Shenzhen two years ago.
She also won a bronze with Mun Yee in the synchro platform at the 2009 world meet in Rome. She was fifth twice in the individual discipline in Rome and Shanghai (2011).