A sudden loss of form robs Pandelela of a medal in the Olympics

An underwater view shows Pandelela Rinong as she competes in the preliminary round of the women's 10m platform diving event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo on August 4, 2021. Photo: François-Xavier Marit | AFP

By Martin Yee

KUCHING: Sarawak Olympic double medallist in two Olympics Pandelela Rinong Pamg’s failure to clinch a medal in the Tokyo Olympics was not due to age or anything wrong with her preparations but perhaps the pressure was getting to her.

It was just not her day and this blip could happen to any divers including world class competitors according to former fellow Sarawak diver Bryan Nickson Lomas.

Both her Chinese rivals who won the gold and silver were both 14 and 15 with the youngest Quan Hong Chan won the gold medals and scoring a three perfect 10 during the finals dive.

Bryan Nickson said she was clearly off form as the diving sport depend a lot of concentration and mental strength with the spin the most final part of executing the dive.

“It is very normal for even a world class diver to be strangely in good form in one day during the preliminary rounds and fluffed it the next day during the finals.

“History of the Olympics are full of such cases such as the Russian diver Illia Sakharov who was the defending champion in the London Olympics flopped at the Rio Olympics when he failed to qualify for the finals.

“So was British diver Tom Daley who was in the same competitions with me in London Olympics went from hero to zero in the Rio Olympics.

“He was first in the preliminary round but failed miserably in the finals. And that had happened to Lela (Pandelela) when she failed in her very first dive.

“Maybe the pressure at home and the whole country for her to do well, after never failing to land a medal in the last two Olympics, did affect her performance a bit.

“For when you compete your main focus is to win a medal and not affected by the monetary and other awards that many think would affect her.

“Maybe after failing in the synchronised event which for us divers are easier than the individual even made her even more pressured to win.

“You want to be the best and everybody expect you to be the best so when the individual came the pressure is very intense.

“As I saw it, I think her spinning is too slow that affected her entry into the water that created a splash.

Bryan said even in the semi-final Pandelela almost missed out the finals as she was almost placed 20th placing but as luck would have it, the Brazil diver suffered a mishap handing the Sarawak diver a spot in the finals by being placed 19th.

Bryan said as for Pandelela she should not think too much of her bad outings at Tokyo and it is a good sign that during her interview with the Astro TV network, she said she is looking ahead to the next Olympics in Paris in 2024,

“Moreover, if you see she had done the feat of winning two medals in diving which no other divers in Malaysia had done and her gold medal win in the World Cup in May, these attest to her diving class.