Community leaders want just rewards for diving ace

File Photo: Pandelela Rinong shows her gold medal after the women's 10m platform final at the FINA Diving World Cup and test event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on May 5, 2021. Photo: Behrouz Mehri |AFP

KUCHING: National diver Pandelela Rinong deserves special rewards and incentives for her history-making feat in the just-concluded FINA Diving World Cup 2021 in Japan.

A group of Bidayuh political and community leaders want the diving ace be accorded befitting rewards and incentives for her superb achievement in winning gold at the championship.

“Pandelela has made big sacrifices. She trained hard and endured pain and injuries just to get to where she is today … even at the expense of her academic and social life.

“While her peers pursue academic excellence and enjoy social life, she has to maintain strict discipline and stay focus on training.

“If she is not fairly rewarded than all her sacrifices would be in vain,” the leaders said.

The 28-year-old two-time Olympic medallist did not just win gold but brought home Malaysia’s first-ever and only gold medal in the just-concluded five-day international competition. 

With her latest victory, she has to date won a total of five medals at world championships.

She won the gold medal at the FINA Diving World Cup 2021 at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre after she amassed 355.70 points in the women’s 10m platform.

The community leaders also cautioned that not giving Pandelela a well-deserved reward would have negative impact on the young sportsmen and sportswomen in the state.

“Without just rewards and incentives, how do you expect people to take up sports seriously? No one is going to take it seriously let alone to make sacrifices to achieve excellence.

“Medal itself has no value. In the end, they would treat it as just another collection item,” they said.

They pointed out that unlike Datuk Nichol David and Datuk Lee Chong Wei, who are professionals in their own sports, Pandelela is just an amateur.

This means that she would not be able to earn income from all her efforts and sacrifices if there are no rewards forthcoming for her achievements.

“For Nichol and Chong Wei, it is a different ball game. Both are professionals, so they are able to churn incomes from endorsements and winning tournaments.”