Pandelela begins her #RoadToRio with a birthday bash
By Jude Toyat
As the first female Malaysian to win an Olympic medal, Pandelela Rinong is a pride to Malaysians, especially the Bidayuh community.
Since then, she has also become the first Malaysian to finish on the podium in an individual event in the World Aquatics Championships, qualifying her for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
To celebrate her achievements and her 23rd birthday, the Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA) hosted a thanksgiving dinner at the DBNA headquarters.
“I just got back from Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 FINA Diving World Cup. I am here for three days and my itinerary include training sessions at the Sarawak Aquatics Centre and this thanksgiving dinner,” said the Bidayuh diving star from Kampung Jugan in Bau who was also the first Malaysian to qualify for the Olympics that will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from August 5-21.
“I am blessed to be with the Bidayuh community here including my parents who will join me in Rio and watch me compete live at the Olympics, offering prayers and hoping for everyone’s success.”
Pandelela’s trip back home was accompanied by members from the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) including its secretary Mae Chen, national diving head coach Yang Zhuliang, and athletes that include Leong Mun Yee, Cheong Jun Hoong, Ahmad Amsyar, Wendy Ng, Ooi Tze Liang, Chew Yiwei, Muhammad Syafiq, Joey Loh, and Dhabitah Sabri.
Pandelela said that she is well prepared for the Olympics.
“I am always ready for the Olympics, but before that, I needed to go to several other competitions including the Diving World Series in Beijing (March 6) and three other venues for the series before I could go to Rio.”
“I am now focusing on my synchronised diving and will continue to polish my techniques and skills prior to the competition,” she explained.
When asked on the team or diver that she is looking forward to compete against, Pandelela said that all the divers at the Olympics are strong rivals and she won’t be underestimating any of them.
“All I can do is to give my best and do what I did during training and just pray that everything goes smoothly and hope that my best dive will impress the judges to give me high marks.”
Pandelela has also been nominated Favourite Asian Sports Star in the 2016 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards to be shown on March 14.
“I found out about this nomination two months ago. I hope that I can do my best to get votes and win the title,” said Pandelela who is up against three other youth sports icons namely basketball player Jeron Teng (Philippines) and footballers Kim Kurniawan (Indonesia) and Irfan Fandi (Singapore).
To vote for Pandelela Rinong in the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, visit http://kca.nick-asia.com.
On her future plans, Pandelela said that she is currently “continuing my passion in diving and trying to complete my studies in Sports Science at Bukit Jalil Sports School in Kuala Lumpur in two years’ time.”
At the thanksgiving dinner, Pandelela received RM10,000 as her birthday gift from Putra Sentosa Group of Companies chief executive officer Datuk Henry Harry Jinep.
Also attending the event were DBNA president Datu Ik Pahon Joyik, DBNA Women chairperson Nancy Mongin, Pandelela’s father Pamg Joheng and mother Hartini Lamim.