KUCHING: Datukship or otherwise, for national diver Pandelela Rinong, her love for the sport trumps everything.
She said while she accepted rewards and incentives for her contribution to the industry, they were not her primary objective.
“It is really not important to me whether my family or I are awarded titles. This is not my objective as an athlete.
“I do this for the love of the sports and for my sense of achievement. Everyone wants to excel in their fields and I am not different.
“I accept any rewards or incentives given by the government with gratitude. I consider them as blessings and I am happy regardless,” she told New Sarawak Tribune recently.
Pandelela was responding to calls for her to receive a Datukship following her recent victory in clinching Malaysia’s first gold medal in the women’s 10m platform final at the Fina Diving World Cup 2021 in Japan.
Meanwhile, 1960s sporting icon and medical expert Tan Sri Dr Mani Jegathesan, when contacted, said the national diver had a few more good years left in her.
He said during his time, while athletes were not permitted to receive money or sign endorsement contracts, they found ultimate joy in donning the national colours.
Dr Jega, better known as the ‘Flying Doctor’, said titles and awards must come at a stage when one had retired and was enjoying the fruits of one’s achievements.
“When you are actively competing, you are just one more person on the lane, and you don’t expect the starter or the next athlete on the lane to say, ‘Hey, Datuk, how are you this morning?’”
Regardless, he said it was up to the people in authority to decide what was appropriate and when to award the athlete.
Similarly, Federal Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said a Datukship could come at a later time as the important things were the athlete’s continuous progress and consistency.
He said Pandelela should be awarded for her feat in sports through a scholarship in her studies until the PhD level as well as full financial support for her family’s welfare and needs.
“Greatness in sport has its limit. After that, that it will just fade away. But if she (Pandelela) is endowed with education like Dr Jega, she’ll continue to be great.
“Once she becomes a great thinker, she’ll reflect her on life and understand that we have helped to enhance her greatness,” he said.