WITH four years to rehearse for her next Olympics, you and I would think that Pandelela Rinong Pamg would have taken a well deserved sabbatical of at least six months after her historical win at the 2012 London Olympics. But the Bidayuh athlete returned to train in no time, having picked up several more medals at regional and international tournaments that followed. “I started preparing for the 2016 Olympics two months after the 2012 Olympics wrapped up. Schedules for competitions are packed year after year. My coach would increase training intensity a month before a competition if not we’d head to China for training camp which is harder and cuts my Sunday rest to only half a day,” said Pandelela. As if her daily routine doesn’t sound gruelling already. A typical day for Pandelela begins at 7.30am where she would train for up to nine hours a day for five days a week. On the weekends, the 22-year-old is kept busy attending interviews and events. Nonetheless, the modest young lady remains spirited – especially at the mention of her favourite K-pop group BIGBANG – and shared her hopes to learn a new diving technique this year and qualify for the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “I’m also hoping to receive more attention and support from sports officials and sponsors so that the diving scene in Malaysia will continue to grow and improve. On a personal note, I want to improve myself spiritually and be a better Christian,” said the sports science undergraduate. Enlighten us please: how complicated is it to dive? Diving is a closed skill (or self-paced) sport that possesses similar characteristics as gymnastics except that you dive into the water. It requires high concentration and strength to execute somersaults and twists before entering the water with minimal splash while overcoming the phobia of height and landing flat on the water. Landing flat on the water is as painful as being hit by a car. You train for years for that one shot during a competition. How do you deal with the stress? I have always been challenging myself to take risks and never give up. Many failures come with greater successes in the future and all I need to do is pray for patience and God’s guidance. Do you feel pressured to bring home a gold or silver medal next year, following your impressive achievement at the 2012 Olympics? Yes but learning to compete under high pressure is good because it makes you mentally stronger. It also motivates me to improve my physique. It isn’t impossible to win a gold medal for Malaysia but I need a lot of support from coaches as well as sports associations and officials. How do you usually celebrate victory and respond to criticism? When there’s a win, I would share the news with my family and friends then take them and my coaches out for meals. If I didn’t perform well, I would assess the possible factors and move on. I would usually laugh off unreasonable criticisms and focus on training harder. It’s better to make peace than hold grudges anyway. Which professional diver do you look up to most? I admire (American diver) David Boudia. He championed the 10-metre platform diving competition during the 2012 Olympics. He gives me a lot of motivation whenever we catch up during competitions. Like me, he’s also a Christian. If you were given a day to hang out with BIGBANG, how would you spend it? Invite them over for a diving lesson, especially T.O.P because I know he loves to swim. What are the foods that tourists must sample when they visit Sarawak? I would definitely recommend kolo mee, laksa Sarawak, tomato mee, kueh chap and kek lapis.