Friday, August 10, 2012

Bryan fails to make semi-final

MALAYSIA'S 2012 London Olympics campaign came to an end when diver Bryan Nickson Lomas just missed out on a place in the 10m platform semi-final at the Aquatic Centre on Friday.

The nation, having experienced a high when Pandelela Rinong delivered a bronze in the women's 10 platform, would have been expecting three-time Olympian Bryan to keep the Malaysian challenge going in London but it was not to be.

Bryan, who was Malaysia's flag-bearer at the 2004 Athens Olympics at the tender age of 14, finished 19th in the preliminary round with only the top 18 divers advancing.

Bryan scored 434.95, losing out to to 18th placed American David Boudia who registered 439.15 to seal the 18th semi-final spot.

The 22-year-old's exit means Malaysia will finish the Games with a haul of one silver and one bronze - thanks to shuttler Lee Chong Wei and Pandelela.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bronze for heroic Pandelela

MALAYSIA'S wait for an Olympic medal from other than badminton ended at the London Olympics Aquatic Centre in the early hours of Friday when diver Pandelela Rinong lived up to expectations to deliver the 10m platform bronze.

It was a magnificent medal to win, considering the pressure the 19-year-old was under after a poor first dive left her in 10th place in the 12-diver field.

Pandelela is overcome with emotion after her bronze medal win was confirmed. Pix by Khairul Ghazali

Pandelela, however, heeded coach Yang Zhuliang's advise for her to remain calm and focus on her remaining dives and the Sarawakian slowly but surely pulled herself back into contention as her main challengers wilted.

In fact, had it not been for the first dive - which gave her only 58.50 points, Pandelela could have well won the silver as her final total of 359.20 points was not too far off silver medallist Brittany Broben of Australia's total of 366.50. China's Chen Ruolin was a runaway winner with 422.30.

Pandelela acknowledges the Malaysians who were in the stands at the Aquatic Centre.

Pandelela, however, was too excited to think about missing out on silver.

"This is a massive achievement for Malaysian diving and I am so proud of becoming the first Malaysian from outside badminton to win a medal at the Olympics for Malaysia. I can't believe it," said Pandelela.

After her first dive, Pandelela found the consistency she required as she scored 78.30, 64.00, 81.60 and 76.80. It was the fourth dive which pulled her back into reckoning and the fifth sealed her third place after Australia's Melissa Wu failed to achieve the score needed to overcome Pandelela.

Bronze but worth its weight in gold for the 19-year-old diver.

"My coach told me to forget about the first dive, stay calm and focus on the remaining dives," said Pandelela, whose first thought was to call her family after fulfilling her media obligations.

"My mother, who was here, had returned home but I will call her once I find my phone."

The bronze means Pandelela has won a medal at every level, including a silver in the 10m platform at the 2010 Junior Olympics at Sydney.

It also means she will receive RM150,000 from the National Sports Council and a lifetime pension of RM2,000 monthly.

"I hope this inspires more Malaysians to take up the sport as diving can bring honour to Malaysia."

The nation certainly agrees, thanks to Pandelela.

Consistency the key for Pandelela in final

CONSISTENCY is needed if Pandelela Rinong is to win a medal in the London Olympics 10m platform at the Aquatic Centre later on Thursday (2am Friday Malaysian time).

Pandelela Rinong has to strive for consistency in the final.

The 19-year-old has a great chance, although gold looks out of reach as only a disaster will prevent China's Chen Ruolin from winning, as she finished the semi-final earlier on Thursday within touching distance of second-placed Meaghan Benfeito of Canada.

The Canadian scored 359.90 from her five dives while Pandelea, who finished fifth, garnered a total 352.50 points.

Third and fourth were Australians Britanny Broben (359.55) and Melissa Wu (355.60). Ruolin was in a class of her own, scoring 407.25 to win the semi-final.

Based on the semi-final, Pandelela will need scores of 75-plus in each of her dives if she is to challenge for a medal.

She had scores of 67.50, 75.40, 70.40, 67.20 and 72.00 in the semi-final.

Meanwhile, Heidi Gan finished 16th in the women's 10km open water swimming, clocking 2:00:45.0s . The Malaysian had targeted a finish higher than her ranking of 24.

Eva Risztov of Hungary won the gold in 1:57:38.2. Second was American Haley Anderson (1:57:38.6) and third Martina Grimaldi (1:57:41.8) of Italy.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Renewed hope as Pandelela impresses

MAYBE, just maybe, Malaysia may end the London Olympics with a second medal after diver Pandelela Rinong advanced to the semi-finals of the women's 10m platform in an impressive second place on Wednesday.

Pandelela, the 2010 Commonwealth Games champion in the same event, scored a total 349.00 points from five dives to finish behind China's Chen Ruolin, who was in a class of her own with 392.35 points.

The China diver, barring the unexpected, will surely win the gold but Pandelela has given Malaysia reason to be excited after cyclist Azizulhasni Awang could only manage a sixth place finish in the keirin final on Tuesday.

Azizul, it was hoped, would add to the silver shuttler Lee Chong Wei won in the men's singles on Sunday but Pandelela, who still has to navigate past the semi-finals today (5pm Malaysian time), may just deliver  a medal.

Pandelela Rinong qualified comfortably for the women's 10m platform semi-finals.
Had it not been for a poor third dive which fetched only 52.80 points, Pandelela would have finished the preliminary round much closer to Chen Ruolin and a comfortable second ahead of Christin Steuer of Germany, who scored 341.75 points.

Traisy Vivien Tukiet, however, failed to advance to the semi-finals after finishing 22nd with 285.00 points. Only the top 18 advanced.

There is still work ahead though and Pandelela has to ensure that she advances to the final, scheduled for 2am Wednesday Malaysian  time  to launch an assault on a 10m platform medal after having finished seventh in the synchro with Leong Mun Yee and eighth in the 3m springboard synchro with Cheong Jun Hoong.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ken Nee finishes 10th

THERE was no grandstand finish from diver Yeoh Ken Nee as he finished 10th in the London Olympics 3m springboard final at the Aquatic Centre on Tuesday.

Although the odds were stacked against the Malaysian, some still harboured hopes he could perform miracles in the final after becoming the first national diver to qualify for an individual Olympic final.

But it was not to be for the veteran as he scored a total 437.45 points from his six dives to finish ahead of only Canada's Alexander Despatie and Javier Garcia of Spain.

It was, however, an improvement from his semi-final finish, where Ken Nee took the 12th and last spot for the final.

The diver, though, can be happy as he met the target he had set himself prior to the London Games.

China, who have been ruling the London Olympics diving pool, had to be satisfied with silver and bronze as Russian Ilya Zakharov took the gold with 555.90 points. Qin Kai scored 541.75 for silver and He Chong finished third with 524.15.

Malaysia's diving campaign is not over yet though as Pandelela Rinong and Traisy Vivien Tukiet will be in action in the 10m platform preliminary round on Wednesday (2am Thursday in Malaysia).

Bryan Nickson Lomas also has the men's 10m platform to look forward to on Friday.

No shame in defeat for Azizul

AZIZULHASNI Awang was just seconds away from delivering Malaysia's first Olympic medal from a sport other than badminton but had to admit defeat when his power-packed opponents turned on the heat in the final at the London 2012 Velodrome on Tuesday.

Azizul looked to be in the running for a medal in the last 200m as he kept himself with the pace-setters and even occupied second place at one stage when the sprint got underway.

However, the experienced field of world and Olympic medallists proved too strong once they turned on the power, leaving Azizul to cross the finish line in sixth.

Still it was an improvement on his 10th placed finish in the Beijing Olympics four years ago and although Azizul could be seen shaking his head as he crossed the line, he will look back to Tuesday's race as motivation to do even better in the future.

He is only 24 and there will be many more races for Azizul to win, including the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Britain's Chris Hoy defended his title while silver went to Germany's Maximilian Levy and New Zealand's Simon van Velthooven and the Netherlands' Teun Mulder shared the bronze in a tight finish at the end. 

Hoy went into the final as a five-time Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion, Dutchman Mulder was a three time world champion,  Australian Shane  Perkins was the 2011 world keirin champion  and Levy was a double bronze medallist in the sprint in Beijing 2008.

Azizul was no pushover himself, having won the keirin silver in the 2010 World Championships and a record three-time World Cup keirin champion, achievements he will undoubtedly add to in the future.

Ken Nee in final, Azizul on course

DIVER Yeoh Ken Nee and cyclist Azizulhasni Awang ensured a nervous wait for Malaysia on Tuesday when they advanced to the 3m springboard final and keirin semi-finals, respectively.

For Ken Nee, it was a case of history being made as he is the first Malaysian to make an individual diving final at the Olympics.

Ken Nee, appearing in his final Olympics, just squeezed into the final by finishing 12th in the semi-finals at the Aquatic Centre diving pool.

The Malaysian had finished 10th in the first round but a low-scoring sixth dive in the semi-final meant an anxious wait before his place was confirmed. The final is scheduled for 2am Wednesday (Malaysian time).

Azizul, by finishing second, ensured he would - at the very least - match the achievement of Beijing 2008 where he also made the semi-finals.

Azizul has Britain's Chris Hoy for company in his semi-final, which will be at 11.30pm Tuesday (Malaysian time).

Hoy, who is defending the crown he won so emphatically in Beijing four years ago, is desperate to retain the title in his only individual race in the London Games.

The others in Azizul's semi-final, where the top three will advance to the final, scheduled for 12.50am Wednesday (Malaysian time), are Spain's Juan Peralta Gascon, Christos Volikakis of Greece, the Netherlands' Teun Mulder and Trinidad and Tobago's Nicholas Phillip.