Pandelela to embrace Tokyo Olympics with realistic goals


KUALA LUMPUR: As the preparations for the Tokyo Olympics are interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, Malaysian diving queen Pandelela Rinong felt winning a gold medal is not a realistic target.

The 27-year-old Kuching born admitted that though it’s her hope and dream to clinch an Olympic gold, but a silver or bronze will look more realistic considering the current situation which has affected the training schedules and overseas exposures.

Pandelela, who was the first-ever Malaysian diver to win an Olympic medal when she bagged a bronze at the 2012 London Games, explained that the Movement Control Order (MCO) and strict standard operating procedures (SOP) have resulted in the reduction of her two-time training sessions daily to one.

“To be honest, if I want to compare with preparations for the previous Olympics, the training is just not enough.

“There are so many things affected (due to the Movement Control Order), not just training, and it is only five months away. But we will see how it goes and pray for the best.

“Preparations could have been better, but for now we have to adhere to strict SOPs. Hopefully, we will be able to perform well in the two major competitions (Diving World Cup in April and Olympics in July),” she told Bernama.

Nevertheless, Pandelela who won silver in the 10m synchronised platform with Cheong Jun Hoong at the 2016 Rio Olympics, promised to work her level best to compete and perform consistently in her upcoming tournaments.

The FINA Diving World Cup in Tokyo scheduled for April 18-23, is now the first international competition for the year but it is subject to change as Japan had extended its border restrictions until March 7.

Meanwhile, commenting on the Covid-19 vaccine, Pandelela said though athletes too need to be vaccinated to train safely and represent the country at international tournaments, including the Tokyo Olympics, the frontliners and high risk groups should be the top priority.

“High-performance athletes have stronger immune systems compare to other people, however, we do need to get vaccinated on time in order to compete in the Olympics,” she said.

The Youth and Sports Ministry (KBS) has sent a list of 4,000 athletes and officials to National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to be given priority for the vaccine.

Malaysia received its first batch of 312,390 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Sunday and was scheduled to receive another 182,520 doses yesterday.

The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme is implemented in three phases with Phase 1 from Feb to April 2021 for the frontliners involving 500,000 people.

The Phase 2, from April to August, will involve senior citizens aged 65 and above, the high-risk groups and the disabled involving some 9.4 million people, while Phase 3 from May this year to February 2022 will cover both Malaysians and non-citizens aged 18 and above, targeting more than 13.7 million people. — Bernama