PETALING JAYA: One bad dive was all it took to wreck Pandelela Rinong-Leong Mun Yee’s hopes of securing an early Olympic ticket at the World Aquatics Championships in Kazan, Russia.
The pair, competing together for the first time this year in the 10m platform synchro, were in the hunt for a medal going into the last two dives in the final.
Pandelela-Mun Yee were third after scoring 51.00, 51.00 and 72.00 in their first three attempts.
But all that good work came to nothing when they failed to make a clean entry on the fourth dive.
The pair received 51.84 points and tumbled out of contention in seventh spot.
Pandelela-Mun Yee closed with a 77.76 to remain in seventh spot with their total of 303.60 points.
There was nothing they could do but watch North Korea’s Kim Un-hyang-Som Nan-hyang celebrate by taking a surprise bronze, their nation’s first-ever medal at the world meet, with 325.26 points.
Mexicans Paola Espinosa-Alejandra Orozco, the silver medallists at the 2012 London Olympics, settled for fourth with 325.26 points.
China’s Chen Ruolin-Liu Huixia retained their world title with 359.52 points while the consistent Meaghan Benfeito-Roseline Filion of Canada took silver with 339.99.
It was a disappointing result for the Malaysian pair. They finished third in the preliminaries earlier and would have qualified for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics if they had repeated that performance in the 12-pair final.
“I was hoping that Mun Yee-Pandelela, with the experience they’ve got, would become the first two Malaysian athletes to qualify for the Rio Olympics,” said coach Yang Zhuliang.
“But their fourth dive was not good … they splashed a lot of water. We needed to get 80.00 points for at least one dive to get a medal, but they couldn’t do it.”
Malaysia will have to wait until next year’s World Cup in Rio de Janeiro in February to fight for the remaining four spots at stake in the synchro event.
China, Canada and North Korea have qualified from Kazan along with Brazil, who get an automatic slot as the hosts.
The men’s 3m springboard synchro pair of Ooi Tze Liang-Ahmad Amsyar Azman made the final on Tuesday after finishing 11th in the preliminaries with 374.97 points.
In women’s 10km open swimming, London Olympian Heidi Gan completed the race in 33rd spot in 2’34:04