RTG decision on Pandelela’s future expected soon


Datuk Pandelela Rinong (right) and Nur Dhabitah Sabri with their gold medals they won in the Women’s 10m synchronised event at 31st SEA Games. — Bernama photo

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 12): The future of top national divers, Datuk Pandelela Rinong and Nur Dhabitah Sabri, with the Road to Gold (RTG) programme hangs in the balance and is only likely to be known at the programme’s committee meeting later this month.

Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh said that she did not have a specific answer regarding the issue, and hoped that all parties could wait for the decision to be made later.

“I know many want to ask about diving, but they have to wait until the RTG meeting. For sure disappointed (with the performance of the diving squad) but I want to hear an explanation from the sports association, coaches and also their technical director.

“The National Sports Council (NSC) is arranging a meeting with them,” she said when met at the CIMB Group Holdings Berhad sponsorship signing ceremony for the national golfer, Ervin Chang, here yesterday.

Pandelela and Nur Dhabitah are the latest athletes in the RTG programme to fail to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics, after a disappointing performance at the World Aquatic Championships in Doha, Qatar last week.

At the same time, she said that it is not easy to make any decision, especially in the sports portfolio, since it involves the performance of an athlete.

“My speech earlier referred to the youth and sports portfolio. Youths need to be supported so that a second chance exists for them. However, in sports, it is based on performance, we know that in the journey of an athlete, there will be ups and downs.

“There are athletes who fall and need to get up again. It’s not just the minister’s decision, I need to get expert help,” she said.

Hannah said that her ministry would discuss the criteria for athletes to be selected to participate in the RTG programme for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics at the committee meeting.

Meanwhile, when met at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, Pandelela and Nur Dhabitah said that they were prepared to accept the possibility of being dropped from the RTG programme after failing to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Pandelela and Nur Dhabitah failed in their bid for a ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics after finishing 12th in the 10m platform synchronised diving event at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha when they collected 240.06 points overall in the competition.

“I am fully aware that this RTG is a privilege, and it doesn’t put athletes in a comfort zone, you have to prove that you deserve to be in the programme,” said Pandalela.

“I will accept whatever decision will be made, and I want to thank RTG who have supported and helped me, for example, the help they gave during the Hangzhou Asian Games. It’s just that luck is not on my side for the Olympics this time,” she said.

Nur Dhabitah, who was plagued by a triceps injury before the tournament started, also failed to stand out in her favourite event, the women’s 3m springboard individual event, when she took 24th position with 238.15 points.

She then teamed up with Wendy Ng for the women’s 3m springboard synchronised event but only scored 258.30 points to be in ninth place, failing to advance to the final stage.

“I know I didn’t perform the way I wanted to. I chose to wait first before making any plans for myself, as I am already disappointed,” said Nur Dhabitah.

In October last year, the RTG committee announced the dropping of athletes from the programme, including the national men’s hockey team, who failed to reach their self-imposed gold medal target at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games.

Underperforming shuttlers were also removed from the programme, including doubles pairs Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Jemie Lai, after a re-evaluation of their performance. – Bernama