Podium eludes diving queen Pandelela

Nur Dhabitah SabriRIO DE JANEIRO: Nagging injuries derailed Pandelela Rinong from the podium when she finished one spot from the bottom in the individual 10m platform finals at the Rio Olympic Games here on Thursday.

Youngest Malaysian Olympian in Rio, Nur Dhabitah Sabri, 17, outshined the 23-year-old silver medalist with a ninth place finishing, while Pandelela ended in 11th spot.

Nur Dhabitah scored 338.00 points, while Pandelela, the bronze medalist in this event in the 2012 London Games, amassed 330.45 points.

China took gold and silver medals respectively through Ren Qian (439.25) and Si Yajie (419.40).

Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito scored 389.20 points to win the bronze medal.

Pandelela, however, improved on her medal colors in Rio when she bagged the silver medal, the first for Malaysia here, in the synchronised 10m platform with Cheong Jun Hoong.

Pandelela started the challenge with a sixth placing, while Nur Dhabitah was in 11th spot in the semi-finals held six hour earlier.

In the finals, nagging injuries flared up at the decisive moments for the Sarawakian who had her parents and a brother coming all the way from home to throw support from the stands.

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,” said Pandelela who admitted that it was not her day.

She was carrying nagging injuries on her shoulders, back and waist for the last two months before the Games.

“Despite that, I tried my best and was not physically fit for the intense competition here. It’s not an excuse,” she added.

Asked if she would go on hiatus to make a comeback, she said that it would affect her performance if she were to do that.

Meanwhile, Nur Dhabitah who has a ‘smiling demeanor’, said that she was happy to qualify for the finals in her Olympic debut.

“I am grateful and lucky to be on the world stage and surprised to finish ahead of Pandelela.

“I just want to follow in the footsteps of the seniors in the team,” said Nur Dhabitah who will sit for her SPM examination this year.

“I keep smiling because that takes away the pressure,” she added.