Malaysia's Pamg Pandelela in action in the Women's 10m Platform Final. Photo: SINGSOC
When it comes to diving, Malaysia were the undisputed stars of the 28th SEA Games, winning all eight gold medals on offer at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
They completed their sweep on Tuesday by winning the last two events, the men’s 3-metre synchronized springboard and the women’s individual 10-metre platform.
In the men’s event, Azman Ahmad Amsyar teamed up with Ooi Tze Liang, who finished with a four gold medals. In the women’s event.
Pandelela Rinong was an easy winner, claiming the title for fourth time in a row.
Of all the athletes at the SEA Games, few were more strongly favoured to win than Pandelela, the only Malaysian woman to win an Olympic medal after she collected a bronze at London in 2012.
It was clear from the start that the 22-year-old was determined to make it four in a row. Pandelela started with a forward three-and-a-half somersault that impressed the judges and put her straight in the lead.
She mistimed her entry on her next dive, a backward two-and-a-half somersault, but entered the water cleanly in her remaining three dives to win convincingly, nearly 50 points more than Loh Zhiayi, her teenage team mate who finished second. The bronze medal went to Singapore’s Lim Shen-Yan.
Ooi Tze Liang and Azman Ahmad Amsyar of Malaysia celebrate winning the Men's 3m Synchronised Springboard Final. Photo: SINGSOC
“The SEA Games divers... I feel that they have improved a lot, compared to the last few years,” Pandelela said. “So, I never underestimate them, and I always give my best.”
Pandelela's next target is this year's world championships in Russia. She already has two bronze medals from previous world titles but hopes her gold at the SEA Games will be the launching pad for her to conquer the world.
"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."
To boost her chances, Pandelela said she was working on a new dive, a complicated backward two and a half somersault, that she hopes till take her to the top.
"My target this year is to learn a new dive," she said. "I didn't have much time to learn it so I just continued with my old routine (at the SEA Games).
"But I hope for this (next) world championship I will try to learn a new dive."