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Sarawak minister: Pandelela taken off Road to Gold despite being peerless

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUCHING, March 1 — Sarawak Sports, Youth and Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah today said national diver Datuk Pandelela Rinong was dropped from the Road to Gold Programme despite being unbeatable in women’s 10m platform event by Malaysian peers. He said it showed that the Malaysian Swimming Federation (MAS) has failed to groom the next level of young women divers to replace her and other divers who have long been in the scene.

“After 10 to 15 years, Malaysia has been depending on two or three women drivers for glory. Now we are facing the problem of having a lack of divers capable of replacing them,” Karim told reporters at the announcement of the Interstate Junior Golf Tournament here.

“Pandelela and another diver Nur Dhabital Sabri most probably have reached the end of their diving career. They cannot be diving until they are so old. So the grooming process must have been done much earlier.

“But at the moment, you put her (Pandelela) there and I am sure she would still be the champion,” Karim, who is also the state Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts, stressed.

“You put her in the South-east Asia SEA) Games, she would still be champion. In the SEA Games or the regional tournaments, the data shows that she can still deliver medals,” he said.

He said it is only fair for Pandelela to continue representing the country, although she will be 31 years’ old this year.

“The federation should continue to help her, but at the same time, it must groom young divers,” he said.

On her being dropped from the Road to Gold programme meant to prepare the national athletes for the Paris Olympics, he said it is up to the RTG programme committee to decide her position.

“Being dropped from the RTG programme, it does not mean the end of the road for her,” he said, adding that she is still under the Elite Sports Podium Programme.

Pandelela and Nur Dhabitah Sabri were dropped from the RTG programme for failing to qualify for 2024 Paris Olympics, scheduled to be held from July 26 to Aug 11, following their performance at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, which served as the qualifying event.