Diving queen Pandelela can still represent Malaysia despite removal from Road to Gold programme, says Sarawak Youth Minister

Pandelela (right) and Dhabitah pose with their medals after winning bronze in the 10m platform synchro event at the 19th World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Photo: National Sports Council

By Shikin Louis

KUCHING, March 1: National diving queen Datuk Pandelela Rinong and her teammate Nur Dhabitah Sabri can still represent Malaysia in competitions despite being dropped from the Road to Gold (RTG) programme.

Sarawak Minister of Youth, Sports and Entrepreneur Development (MYSED) Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the RTG programme was set up for Malaysians to achieve a gold medal in the Olympics and thus, the committee has every right to decide whether or not the duo (Pandelela and Dhabitah) should still be inside the programme especially when they did not qualify for the Paris Olympics.

“However, being dropped from RTG does not mean that you cannot still represent Malaysia. There’s another programme called the Podium Programme where she (Pandelela) can still represent Malaysia.

“Dhabitah is probably around the age of 25 while Pandelela will be 31 this year. As Pandelela has mentioned before, she wants to see many new talents who can beat her and Dhabitah.

“This is where the association body that was tasked to produce those talents, must perform their role. Do not depend on the selected two to three athletes for 10 to 15 years.

“The athletes like Pandelela and her colleagues may have reached probably the end of their diving career so the grooming process must have been done so much earlier,” Abdul Karim said during a press conference at Baitul Makmur II here today.

Nevertheless, Abdul Karim believed that Pandelela could still deliver and become champion should she be sent to compete in any other SEA Games or regional diving tournaments.

“If the data shows that she can still deliver, despite being 31, I think it is only fair for her to stay because winning any gold, silver or bronze medals at the SEA Games level would still elevate the image of Malaysia.

“At the same time, the relevant association and National Sports Council (MSN) must try to make sure that there are new talents. That is where I personally think we are facing a little bit of a problem,” he added.

Abdul Karim (fifth left) photographed with the PGABS delegation during the press conference at Baitul Makmur II, Petra Jaya on March 1, 2024.

Meanwhile, Abdul Karim announced that the Persatuan Golf Amatur Bumiputera Sarawak (PGABS) with the cooperation of Sarawak Sports Council will organise the Interstate Junior Golf Tournament 2024 at Kelab Golf Sarawak at Padang Matang & Santubong from March 4 to 7.

He said there will be 10 teams participating in the tournament, namely from Perlis, Federal Territories, Sabah, Perak, Sarawak, Kedah, Terengganu, Melaka, Brunei and PGABS. The total number of athletes is 84 (56 males and 28 females).

For the men’s team, the champion will bring home a RM8,000 cash prize followed by RM5,000 and RM3,000 for second and third places respectively.

For the women’s team, the champion will secure RM6,000 followed by RM4,000 (second place) and RM2,000 (third place).

For both individual men and women categories, the champion will bag RM3,000 while the second and third places will finish with RM2,000 and RM1,500 respectively.

The event was also supported by the Sarawak government through MYSED with a sponsorship allocation of RM150,000. — DayakDaily