Diver Pandelela Rinong admitted she is relieved that the Tokyo Olympics has been postponed, and that the thought of winning medal is the least of her concerns right now.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japan Olympic Organising Committee on Tuesday announced that the Tokyo Olympics has been put off by a year from its original dates of July 24-Aug 9.
The IOC and the Tokyo organisers made the grim decision following mounting pressure from many countries to delay the Games due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pandelela, a bronze medallist at the 2012 London Olympics and winner of a silver with Cheong Jun Hoong at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is pleased with the IOC decision.
“I definitely feel relieved because no matter what, health and safety is always my priority,” said Pandelela yesterday.
“I certainly believe that this is a blessing in disguise for me as well. This will allow me to get stronger and be better prepared for the Games next year.”
Pandelela’s reaction is understandable as the national divers have been unable to train since the government announced a Movement Control Order (MCO) last week which has since been extended until April 14.
The Sarawakian’s only competition this year was the first leg of the Diving World Series in Montreal earlier this month in which she won a silver with Mun Yee in the 10m platform synchro event.
Since then, the subsequent World Series events in Beijing, London and Kazan have been called off while the Diving World Cup, initially scheduled in Tokyo in April, has been pushed back to June.
Pandelela, who will be 28 by next year’s Olympics, believes age will not get in her way as she eyes a third Olympic medal.
“As I get older, age will definitely be a factor, so I have to choose my competitions wisely,” said Pandelela.
“There will always be competitions every year, so I just need to get my priorities right.
“But right now, I’m not even thinking so far ahead into the future. What’s more important is to stay healthy and injury free from now until then.”
Meanwhile, Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) secretary Mae Chen said they will await further notice from FINA, the world governing body for aquatic sports, in regard to the coming Olympic qualifying events.
“We will wait for further notice from FINA. Our divers and swimmers will carry on with their preparation once the MCO is lifted,” said Mae.