Tokyo Olympics: Sports minister throws down the gauntlet to Pandelela and co

Pandelela Rinong Rinong competes in the women’s 10m platform final at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre, Rio de Janeiro August 18, 2016. — Reuters pic
Pandelela Rinong Rinong competes in the women’s 10m platform final at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre, Rio de Janeiro August 18, 2016. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 — Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican has thrown down the gauntlet to the national divers bound for the July 23-August 8 Tokyo Olympic Games.

“The previous benchmark must be ‘broken’ and they must do better than what they have achieved,” was his order and that simply means to try and return with a gold medal.

After all, Malaysia have won a bronze and a silver in the last two editions of the Games.

Pandelela Rinong emerged as the first-ever Malaysian diver to win an Olympic medal when she bagged bronze at the 2012 London Games. Then, in the 2016 edition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, she won silver in the 10m synchronised platform with Cheong Jun Hoong.

“Hopefully, with their fighting spirit, they will be able to make their dreams come true, that is to chart their own history and, who knows, the country’s too,” he said in an audio clip shared with the media today.

He had earlier spent some time observing the divers’ final preparations at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil here today.

Also present were chef de mission Datuk Lee Chong Wei, National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail and National Sports Institute (NSI) chief executive officer Ahmad Faedzal Md Ramli.

Meanwhile, Reezal Merican said that besides cycling and badminton, diving was also considered a medal contender at the Tokyo Olympics.

He also urged Malaysians to join in the Yassin recital and doa munajat (special prayers in the form of zikir) in conjunction with the Olympic Games and Tokyo Paralympics #DemiMalaysia virtual event on the NSC Facebook page from 9 am tomorrow.

Apart from Pandelela and Jun Hoong, the other divers bound for the Tokyo Olympics are Leong Mun Yee, Wendy Ng Yan Yee and Nur Dhabitah Sabri. — Bernama

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