KUCHING: Age is never a barrier for athletes to continue to partake in any international sports competition.
Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said what is important is that an athlete continue to have high spirit and strive to do their best in the sports that they love.
“If we see our Sarawak’s diving queen Pandelela Rinong Pamg, she is now 28 years old, people may say at that age she will be too old for diving.
“For me, no, age is not important. You must have the spirit of that 46-year-old gymnast who still competed in the 2020 Olympic Tokyo Games.
“If Pandelela can dive when is still at the age of 40. She is always welcome to do that. I would love to see her being in the sports that she loves,” he said in a press conference when fielding questions on Pandelela’s career on Saturday (Aug 7).
Abdul Karim said as such his ministry will always be supportive of Pandelela including her next aim to the 2024 Olympics which will be held in Paris.
“Even if Pandelela quit diving, with her experience and exposure, I am very sure any states in the country or other countries would rope her in and ask her to be a coach for the respective teams,” he pointed out.
Commenting on Pandelela’s performance at the 2020 Olympic Tokyo Games, Karim said that she has made it into the final which was a very big achievement.
“We do feel sad, but whatever it is, being in the Olympics and in the final, that is a very big achievement.
“As Sarawakians and as Malaysians, we are very proud of her achievements,” he said.
Abdul Karim also noted that he is happy to see that despite not winning in the current Olympic, Pandelela is still in high spirits in wanting to go for the next Olympic in Paris.
“So, this is the kind of spirit we want to see in our athletes. Never give up but continue to keep up the fight for the next games,” he said.
Pandelela, a Bidayuh from Bau finished in 12th place in the women’s 10-metre platform final in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Early on, Karim attended the meet-up with Sarawak development athletes for Kuching programme at the Pandelela Rinong Aquatic Centre in Petra Jaya on Saturday (Aug 7).
Also present were Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Snowdan Lawan, Youth, Sports Ministry acting permanent secretary Nancy Jolhi and Sarawak Sports Corporation (SSC) Dr Ong Kong Swee.