KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 29 — National dive queen Datuk Pandelela Rinong and her teammate Nur Dhabitah Sabri have been dropped from the Road To Gold (RTG) programme, programme coordinator Datuk Stuart Ramalingam announced today.

He attributed the move to their failure to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France at the recent World Aquatic Championship in Doha, Qatar.

“The committee will continue to monitor their progress and the Podium Programme will work closely with athletes and associations to ensure Pandelela and Nur Dhabitah receive all the support they need to find their rhythm again,” he said at a media conference here today.

With the elimination of both divers, all the training equipment borne by the RTG programme, including new dry gym training platforms, special rehabilitation centre and new springboards will become long term investments to benefit future national divers, he added.

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He said that Pandelela and Nur Dhabitah, as national athletes, will continue to be part of the Podium Programme.

Stuart also announced that Malaysia’s sole diving representative at the 2024 Olympics, national men’s diver Bertrand Rhodict Lises was the latest addition to the RTG programme so that he would receive assistance in preparations, including overseas training and support services.

The 18-year-old qualified in the men’s individual 10 metre (m) platform event at the World Aquatic Championship in Fukuoka, Japan last year.

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Currently, 13 athletes are in the RTG programme, including 2022 world doubles champions Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and national track cycling champion Datuk Mohd Azizulhasni Awang.

Meanwhile, National Sports Council (NSC) deputy director-general Jefri Ngadirin berkata Bertrand would also be placed in the Fast Track programme under the RTG after the 2024 Olympics ends.

The Fast Track programme was formed with the mission of developing new young talented athletes between 16 and 25 with the potential of winning gold medals at the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, the United States, he said, adding that the sports selected for the programme so far were diving and squash, while the set selection criteria was that athletes would need to win medals at either the Olympics, Asian Games or Commonwealth Games and be ranked in the world top 20.

Besides Bertrand, five other athletes are listed in the programme, four national squash players Ng Eain Yow, S.Sivasangari, Aifa Azman and Aira Azmanincluding as well as another national men’s diver, Enrique Maccartney Harold, he said.

He also expressed hope that athletes taken into the programme would raise their performances by the 2028 Olympics.

The 2024 Olympics will take place from July 26 to Aug 11, while the 2028 Olympics will take place from July 14 to 30, 2028. — Bernama