Meet our female Olympians: Pandelela Rinong

The 23-year-old diver is the first Malaysian woman to ever win an Olympic medal

By ELLE Malaysia | Published: 18 Jul 2016

Olympian: Pandelela
Photo: Pandelela

[Updated 10 August 2016] Pandelela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong have won Malaysia's first medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics! Read the story here.


After winning bronze in diving at the 2012 Olympic Games in London – making her the first Malaysian woman to win an Olympic medal – Sarawakian Pandelela Rinong will be hoping to go one or two better in Rio this August. After all, Pandelela's used to breaking records: she is also the first Malaysian athlete to win an Olympic medal in a sport other than badminton. When not training, Pandelela is busy with her studies at University Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. She squeezed in some time to tell us about her preparations for the games.

How do you feel about going to the Olympics?
I am full of pride and excited about representing Malaysia at the Olympics.

How do you think you'll feel when you walk into the stadium at the opening ceremony?
I will feel nothing but pride and joy from just being there.

Will any of your friends and family be there?
My parents and my older brother will be there.

When did you first start diving?

I started training when I was eight. I was picked by a swimming coach while she was on a visit to my primary school to look for potential swimmers to join her training programme. I was later given the choice to learn diving as I was not afraid of heights and was brave enough to jump from a 3-metre board.

How old were you when you first started to dream of one day competing at the Olympics?
I started dreaming about the Olympics when my Sarawak State Diving Coach showed me a newspaper article about Guo Jing Jing, the Chinese national diver who won numerous medals including the Olympic medal. I wanted to be just like her.

Can you take us through a typical day in your life in the lead up to the Games?
I am currently training in China. My daily routine is fixed. I wake up at 7.30am, have breakfast and get ready for my training session that goes on from 8.30am till 12pm. After lunch, I take a short nap and resume training from 3pm to 6.30pm. After dinner, I spend the rest of the evening on my University work before packing my training bag for the next day. After that, I'll do some laundry and I'm in bed by 11pm.

How many hours a day do you train?
I train about 8 hours a day on average.

What do you do to relax?
I listen to K-Pop music, read or watch funny videos on YouTube to unwind.

What are the biggest challenges you've faced up until now?
Suffering from injuries has always been my biggest fear. I worry that they'll hamper my progress and cause a lot of setbacks in my training.

What is something that no one understands about what you do?

People do not understand why I train so much or they would confuse diving with other aquatic sports such as swimming or even scuba diving!

How do you stay motivated? Do you have any particular motto, philosophy, music, or mentor who inspires you?
I want to prove to people and my family that I can be the best. When I first started, a lot of people discouraged me from taking up diving as a career because it is tough to get to the top. Many of them doubt that diving can be a good path for a long-term profitable career. I also have my mentor David Boudia to thank. He's also got his own gold medal in diving, a medal he won in the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Follow Pandelela Rinong on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more updates. 

Related: Meet our female Olympians: Heidi Gan


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