Sarawakian Pandelela is the Best Sportswoman of the year

Today Star

Wednesday April 18, 2012
Pandelela is sportswoman of the year, third time for Chong Wei

KUALA LUMPUR: Shuttler Lee Chong Wei, as expected, bagged his third National Sportsman Award, thanks largely to his achievement of winning seven international titles apart from reaching the World Championships final in 2011.

Pandelela Rinong sprang a big surprise by capturing the National Sportswoman Award, making her the first diver to earn the countrys highest accolade for athletes.

Pandelela beat the likes of squash queen Nicol David, shooter Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi, bowler Jacqueline Sijore and track cyclist Fatehah Mustapa to claim the RM20,000 prize money.

World No. 1 Nicol enjoyed a fantastic season with seven international titles on the WISPA circuit, including a record equalling sixth World Open title in Holland last year.
The suit fits: Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah helping Pandelela Rinong put on the National Sportswoman of the Year jacket as National Sports Council director-general Zolkples Embong applauds. SHAARI CHEMAT / The Star

Track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang and Nicol were the respective winners for 2010 but the selection panel opted for Pandelela due to her breakthrough achievements in 2011.

Pandelela became the first Malaysian to win a medal at the FINA Diving World Series when she claimed the silver in the 10m platform individual at the opening leg in Moscow.

She also partnered Leong Mun Yee to a silver in the 10m platform synchro in the Beijing leg of the series, which is by invitation only to the top eight ranked divers in the world.

Pandelela also did the country proud with two medals at the World University Games in Shenzhen in the 10m platform individual and with Mun Yee in the synchro discipline.

The silver is the best result by a Malaysian athlete in Universiade history.

The 19-year-old Sarawakian also pulled off another first with Mun Yee in bagging gold in the platform synchro at the German Open, making them the first diving pair to win at the World Grand Prix circuit.

Pandelela also retained her 10m platform individual, the only event she was entered for, title with ease at the Indonesia SEA Games.

Pandelela herself, expressed shock but delight at winning the National Sportstwoman Award for the first time.

Are you sure? I was also nominated for the award last year after winning the New Delhi Commonwealth Games gold medal and the Youth Olympic Games two silver medals in Singapore.

But it was Nicol who won. I expected her to do it again as her achievements were great last year.

Im very surprised, but I was kind of hoping I could be the winner as I was asked to come back after the Moscow competition to attend the Awards ceremony.

Im happy to get a big recognition for diving, said the Olympic-bound Pandelela, who took bronze in the FINA Diving World Series in Moscow last weekend.

Pandelela will fly to Tijuana, Mexico, today to join Mun Yee for the final round of the series.

Chong Wei said winning a third award after 2005 and 2008 will spur him to deliver glory for the country at the London Olympics in August.

I came close in Beijing four years ago and Im more mature now.

This award is a boost to my dream of bringing home Malaysias first Olympic gold medal, said Chong Wei.

The 10-member synchronised swimming team led by Katrina Ann Hadi got the nod for the national womens team award based on their clean sweep of all five gold medals at stake in the Indonesia SEA Games.

The mens recurve trio of Chu Sian, Khairul and Haziq was the choice for the mens team award due to their feat of earning the country the maximum Olympic quota for archery after qualifying for the team event at the World Championships in Italy last year.

Congratulations Pandelela

we are proud of u, girl…