History was created when Malaysia’s diving queens Pandelela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong, became the first Malaysian female atheletes to clinch silver for the country at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
In the women’s synchronized 10m platform event, the duo managed to score a remarkable 344.34 to finish second behind Chinese duo, Chen Ruolin-Liu Huixia (354.00). Not only did the duo do the country proud, but Pandelela, a second year undergraduate from the Sports Centre at the University of Malaya (UM) also brought immense pride and joy to UM’s campus community.
The duo’s silver medal, the first for Malaysia at Rio was one out of the 4 silvers and 1 bronze haul for Malaysia’s contingent, making it the most successful games so far for Malaysia since the 1992 games in Barcelona when badminton was first introduced
At this year’s games, besides Pandelala, seven other atheletes in Malaysia’s Olympic team are also from the University of Malaya. These are Vivian Hoo Kah Mun and Woon Khe Wei who represented the country in badminton (women’s doubles), Ahmad Amsyar Azman and Wendy Ng (diving), Navraj Singh (high jump) and Haziq Kamaruddin (archery).
Thousands were gathered at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport when they returned from Rio, among which was a group from the University of Malaya who arrived two hours earlier, armed with their colourful banners and bouquets of flowers for the nation’s and the university’s heroes.
For Pandelela, this silver medal is certainly to be treasured as she has cemented her place in Malaysia’s sporting history as the country’s most successful female Olympian, with one silver and a bronze (from the Beijing Olympics in 2008) under her belt.
However, for this second year Sports Science student her next feat is to complete her degree and graduate - a promise which she has made to her family and which she is determined to fulfill. Given the grit and determination of this young lass which was evident during the gruelling competition, the university has no doubt that it will be another winning performance.
By Harris Rajahdin