Malaysian diver Pandelela Rinong facts

Imagine being the first female athlete from your country to win a medal and the first athlete to win a medal in a sport that is not widely known to your people. That was Pandelela Rinong Pamg, a female diver from Sarawak, nine years ago when she won a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics.

Because of her achievement, people started paying attention to Malaysian athletes in other sports as well. Here are 10 facts every Malaysian should know about Pandelela Rinong, the athlete who set multiple records with her accomplishment at the Olympics.

1. She made her Olympic debut in 2008 when she was 15 years old

Malaysian diver Pandelela Rinong
Image credit: @pandelela

Many people know Pandelela Rinong from the London 2012 Olympics because she won a bronze medal for the 10m platform diving. However, the four-time Olympian made her debut at the world’s biggest sporting event in 2008 in Beijing when she was only 15 years old.

Pandelela competed in the same event and finished at the 27th spot. Even though she didn’t make it to the podium, she kept on training to represent the country again in the following Olympics.

2. She is the first female Malaysian athlete to win an Olympic medal

Pandelela winning her first Olympic medal
Image credit: @pandelela

Pandelela rose to fame as the first female athlete from Malaysia to win an Olympic medal when she finished third in the women’s 10m platform diving. The bronze medal she won is significant in two ways. Apart from being the first female Malaysian athlete to win an Olympic medal, she is also the first Malaysian athlete to win a medal in a sport other than badminton. Because of her achievement, Malaysians started paying attention to a sport that was not badminton.

3. She is the most decorated female Malaysian athlete at the Olympics

Pandelela Rinong & Jun Hoong winning silver medal at Rio Olympics
Image credit: Blogger Sukan/Sport

Pandelela’s legacy continues to grow as she has become the most decorated female Malaysian athlete at the Olympics. In 2016, she won a silver medal for the 10m Synchronised Platform Diving with her partner Cheong Jun Hoong at the Rio Olympics, making them the first Malaysian women’s team to do so.

With two Olympic medals under her belt, Pandelela is certainly our nation’s pride and a true inspiration to all, especially women. She proved that, just like men, Malaysian women too can be achievers in international sports if they are given the opportunity to pursue their dreams.

4. She was crowned National Sportswoman Of The Year thrice

Malaysian diver Pandelela Rinong
Image credit: @pandelela

Pandelela’s breakthrough success in sports won her multiple sports awards. She was named National Sportswoman Of the Year three times, in 2011, 2012 and 2015 respectively.

She has also won the Sarawak Sportswoman of the Year award in 2010 and 2011/2012, as well as the Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM)-100PLUS Best Athlete Award for three years. Her success as an athlete is so significant that she was even named Sarawak’s Sports Youth Icon in 2016.

5. She was born in a small village in Bau, Sarawak

Pandelela Rinong in action
Image credit: @pandelela

As famous as she is today, Pandelela comes from a modest family background. She was born in Kupuo Jugan in Bau, a village that hosts the Bidayuh ethnic tribe in Sarawak.

Her full name is Pandelela Rinong Anak Pamg. She has an older brother and two younger sisters. Her father Mr Pamg is a contractor and her mother is a homemaker.

Pandelela started diving when she was eight after the family moved to Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak. She was selected by a diving coach who visited her primary school. Pandelela caught the attention of the coach when she bravely jumped from a 5m platform.

6. Her mother tongue is Bidayuh and she can speak three other languages

Pandelela Rinong at World Championships
Image credit: @FINA

Being a Sarawak native, Pandelela speaks four languages in total. Her mother tongue is Bidayuh, the language spoken by a group of indigenous people in Southern Sarawak.

Apart from this, she can speak Mandarin Chinese, Malay and English fluently, making her a complete multilingual Malaysian.

7. She graduated from Malaysia’s top university in Sports Management Science

Pandelela graduates from UM
Image credit: @pandelela

Many athletes sacrifice their studies in search of success in sports. But Pandelela is a fighter and an all-rounder. She’s not only incredibly good at diving, but she has a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management Science from the University of Malaya.

She graduated in 2018 despite the struggles of having to juggle between sports and studies, thanks to friends, family members and the lecturers who have supported her. That a medalled Olympian like her can perform well in academics and manage to get a much-anticipated degree scroll is a true inspiration to everyone.

8. She was conferred a Federal Award by the Malaysian government in 2016

Pandelela Rinong receives Federal award
Image credit: Blogger Sukan/Sport

Not many people are aware of Pandelela’s accolades other than the ones she received for diving. In 2016, the late Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah conferred the Ahli Mangku Negara or Member of the Order of the Defender of the Realm award to national diver.

In the same year, Pandelela received Johan Bintang Kenyalang or Companion of the Order of the Star of Hornbill by the Sarawak state government for her outstanding performance in sports, particularly after winning the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

9. She has won multiple gold, silver and bronze medals

Pandelela Rinong winning gold medal
Image credit: Jei FM II

Other than the Olympics, Pandelela has won multiple gold, silver and bronze medals at various international diving competitions. She has won the gold medal several times at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games – 2007 SEA Games in Thailand, the 2009 SEA Games in Laos, and the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar.

She is the first Malaysian diver to win the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010. She also made a historic finish at the World Aquatics Championship in Russia in 2015 by clinching a bronze medal in an individual event.

Most recently, she won a gold medal for the individual 10m platform diving at the FINA Diving World Cup in Tokyo, Japan.

10. She is a 28-year-old national athlete who trains eight hours a day

Video credit: @Olympics

Pandelela is 28 this year. She trains eight hours a day – four hours in the morning and four hours in the evening. In a week, she trains for a total of six days.

But when competitions draw near, she would train on Sunday mornings, and more intensely too. Despite training for long hours, she always ensures that she has enough rest to recover for the next day.

Facts about Pandelela Rinong, the Malaysian diver who made history

Although Pandelela did not win any medals at the Olympics this time, she’s still an athlete worth celebrating for years to come for her enormous achievements in diving and for raising the bar for aquatic sports in Malaysia. We hope more people will be inspired after reading these facts about Pandelela Rinong and start seeing the opportunity to succeed in every sport they play.

Read more inspiring stories about Malaysian athletes:

Cover image adapted from: Jei FM II and @pandelela

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