The Star : Pandelela-Jun Hoong nail second straight podium finish

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian divers Pandelela Rinong-Cheong Jun Hoong maintained their reputation as a world-class pairing with their second straight podium finish in the Diving World Series.

Newly crowned National Sportswoman for 2017 Jun Hoong partnered Pandelela to clinch the bronze medal in the women’s 10m platform synchro final in the second leg in Fuji, Japan, yesterday.

Jun Hoong-Pandelela slipped to third with two dives to go but managed to hold on to finish the competition with 310.32 points.

North Koreans Kim Mi-rae-Kim Kuk-hyang narrowly finished ahead of the Malaysian pair to take the silver with 311.58 points.

Pandelela-Jun Hoong, the Olympic silver medalists in Rio two years ago, took the silver behind the Chinese pair in the opening leg in Beijing, China, last week.

There will be a break of five weeks before the prestigious series resumes with two remaining legs in Montreal, Canada (April 27-29), and Kazan, Russia (May 4-6).

The Commonwealth Games is up next in Gold Coast from April 4-15 and Pandelela-Jun Hoong are pleased to have a psychological edge over their main Australian and Canadian rivals.

Australians Taneka Kovchenko-Melissa Wu and Canadians Meaghan Benfeito-Caeli McKay finished fifth (294.84) and sixth (283.20) respectively yesterday.

“I’m pleased with the performance in Beijing and Fuji. Our consistency is there now,” said Pandelela, who will compete in the 10m platform individual today.

The two-time Olympic medallist will have to fight her way to the top-six final from a tough heat comprising the likes of Benfeito, reigning Olympic champion Ren Qian and her Chinese teammate Zhang Jiaqi, the winner in Beijing last Sunday.

But Pandelela, who finished fourth in Beijing, is relishing the challenge.

“My semi-final group is tougher but I’ll try my best and focus on qualifying for the final. It’s getting more exciting,” she added.

Said world champion Jun Hoong: “I was sad not to be able to fly back to take the National Sportswoman award myself but it’s not too bad now. We still got a podium although not in the best of conditions.”

Dhabitah-Mun Yee finished sixth in the women’s 3m springboard synchro final with 253.14 points.