Malaysia's Pandelela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong back diving at virtual event

Rio silver medallists Rinong and Cheong made long awaited comebacks to diving at online event

By Ken Browne ·

Pandelela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong made long-awaited comebacks at the Malaysia International Online Diving competition after a long time away from competitive diving.

Rinong took part in the women's synchronised 10m platform with dive partner Leong Mun-Yee, it was their first competitive tournament in almost a year.

They were the only participants in the women's event and scored a total of 287.64 points.

"This tournament is good for us, not to mention safe and everything went well," Pandelela said after the two-day competition on Saturday and Sunday 5-6 December.

"The absence of spectators is not a problem, I am proud that Malaysia managed to organise this online tournament for the first time."

Pandelela's dive partner at Rio 2016 Cheong Jun Hoong also made a return to competition after two years out.

And while 2017 world champion Cheong did not manage to make the final of the women's 10m platform individual event, it was positive to see her back in action.

It was also the first time the Malaysia national diving squad competed at an event in almost a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A national icon at home, Rinong became the first female athlete to win an Olympic medal for Malaysia at the London 2012 Games, then claimed silver in the women’s synchronised 10m platform event at Rio 2016 with Cheong.

Now they're just happy to be back in the pool.

Wendy Ng Yan Yee gets boost before Tokyo 2020

Elsewhere Wendy Ng Yan Yee impressed as she topped the individual 3 metre springboard event on Sunday.

The 27-year-old collected 305.25 points to finish above fellow Malaysian Nur Dhabitah Sabri scoring 301.25, while Australian Esther Qin came in third with 282.60 points.

On Saturday Yan Yee had teamed up with Sabri to win the women's synchronised 3m springboard event with 230.58 points.

Yan Yee takes away a confidence boost from her double success at the Bukit Jalil National Aquatic Centre as she prepares for her third straight Olympic appearance at Tokyo 2020.

"There has been an improvement (in performance) compared to the last time I participated in the tournament in January," she said afterwards.

"The overall score is also better than before. I am happy with this development and the training programme provided over the past few months."

21-year-old Nur Dhabitah said she hoped more events like this virtual one could be arranged.

"I feel it is necessary (online tournament) because there aren’t many tournaments and if we do not want to lose the spirit of competing, tournaments like this can be held more frequently. It doesn’t have to be an international tournament, an event for local divers would also do," she said.

Both divers have secured their spot in the women's individual 3m springboard event at the Tokyo Games, and are hoping to qualify for the women's 3m synchronised springboard event too.

Interview with Pandalela

Back in April Malaysia's diving trailblazer talked to Olympic Channel about being away from the pool and so much more.

"It's been weeks without diving," she said when the pandemic had caused many countries to shut down, "so I'm not really training right now. I'm just doing some physical training without the diving. I think that since I started diving, this is like my longest holiday."

She also talked about fame and forgiving, you can listen to the entire interview below.