Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pandelela, Bego safe medal bets

DIVER Pandelela Rinong and swimmer Daniel Bego have set personal goals at next month's Sea Games in Myanmar.

While Pandelela will be gunning for a fifth gold medal in her fourth Sea Games appearance, Daniel, who missed the 2011 edition in Indonesia due to injury, hopes to make up for lost time in his fifth outing.

A bronze medallist in last year's London Olympics, Pandelela came back from her training base in Guangzhou for Universiti Malaya's awards function on Tuesday.

Pandelela, a second semester sports science undergraduate, was crowned the university's Sportswoman of the Year for her achievements last year.

"This award will inspire me to try my best in the Sea Games. I am delighted to have won it," said Pandelela, who was ranked second overall in the recent World Series, on Tuesday.

Pandelela made a winning Sea Games debut with Cheong Jun Hoong in the 2007 Korat Games before clinching two titles (platform individual and synchro (with Leong Mun Yee) in Laos (2009) followed by a win in the platform individual two years ago in Indonesia.

Bego was the star performer for Malaysia when he bagged five gold medals, four of them in record time, at the 2009 edition in Laos.

However, the 24-year-old had to lay off swimming for more than a year after undergoing surgery on his shoulders in 2011. He missed the 2011 Sea Games in Indonesia and also failed to qualify for last year's London Olympics.

He had to go for a third surgery to correct a long-standing bone spur problem in his right shoulder.
"I wouldn't say I am at my best form but it is getting near to where I was in the past. It was tough getting back from the injury," said Bego, who made his Sea Games debut in Hanoi a decade ago.
He achieved his Sea Games breakthrough in the 2005 Manila edition with wins in the 200m freestyle and 100 butterfly events. He repeated his feat two years later in Korat.

In Myanmar, he will compete in four individual events - 100m, 200m, 400 freestyle; and 100m butterfly along with several relay events.

Bego, however, will face tough opposition in Singapore's Joseph Schooling, who trains in the United States, in the freestyle and butterfly events. Schooling, 18, is aiming for seven gold.

Bego is just a title short to make a perfect 10-gold in the Sea Games. He has a good chance of achieving it in the 400m freestyle, judging from his performance in the recent FINA World Cup, where he finished sixth in the final. By Ajitpal Singh

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