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Pandelela defends SEA Games title, prepares for worlds

Pandelela defends Southeast Asian Games title, all the while planning a new dive for worlds

Pandelela defends SEA Games title, prepares for worlds

SINGAPORE (AP) -- For Pandelela Rinong, this week was all about defending her title in Southeast Asia. Next month is about taking on the world.

The Olympic bronze medalist is one of the marquee athletes at the SEA Games, where she completed Malaysia's sweep of the diving gold medals with her fourth straight title in the 10-meter platform.

She's been working on a new and improved backward two-and-a-half somersault, but wasn't ready to unveil it in Singapore. She didn't need to, considering she won by almost 50 points from teammate Loh Zhiayi with a total of 353. Still, getting into competition mode was important so close to the world championships in Russia.

"These SEA Games have given me the motivation to train harder for the world championships and to qualify for the Rio Olympics," she said. "It's kind of hard to maintain that but I always try to focus and train harder than the others."

Pandela was front and center as the Malaysian diving team gathered to pose for a group photograph immediately after her final. The Malaysians won all eight finals on the program, with Ooi Tze Liang picking up his fourth gold of the games when he combined with Ahmad Amsyar Azman to win the men's synchronized three-meter springboard.

The 22-year-old Pandelela has become a genuine national star since becoming the first Malaysian woman to win an Olympic medal in a sport other than badminton when she claimed the bronze at the London Games in 2012.

She also has won bronze medals at the world championships in synchronized diving, a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games and a bronze at the Asian Games. But she's desperate to ascend the top of the podium, and knows it'll take something extravagant to break China's dominance.

"My target this year is to learn a new dive," she said. "I don't have much time to learn it so I just continued with my old routine (in Singapore). But I hope for this world championship I will try a new dive."

Updated : 2021-09-21 16:23 GMT+08:00