PANDELELA Rinong issued a stern warning to her rivals ahead of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Incheon Asian Games by breaking the 360-point barrier for the first time in two years at the Beijing leg of the World Series yesterday.The Malaysian impressed the judges with her flawless performance, posting a five-dive total of 368.50 (76.50, 69.60, 76.80, 68.80, 76.80) points for a silver medal in the women's 10m platform individual.
The London Olympics bronze medallist had posted 369.75 and 372.15 scores in the Dubai and Beijing legs in 2012 but did not manage high scores last season.
World champion Liu Huixia of China led from start-to-finish to win gold with a 412.90 series while Britain's Tonia Couch took third on 357.90.
Pandelela, ranked fourth in the world last year, also finished ahead of Canada's Roseline Fillion, who was placed fourth on 342.60, and Mexican Alejandra Orazco (fifth - 331.45).
National coach Yang Zhuliang attributed Pandelela's performance to hard work during a recent stint in Guangzhou.
"Pandelela has posted near her career best score and this is a good sign ahead of priority competitions," said Zhuliang when contacted in Beijing yesterday.
"Her entries were impressive and besides that, she posted similar scores in all five rounds. It shows she has matured and is now diving more consistently compared to before.
"However, we cannot get carried away as this is only the first meet of the season. I believe she will get even better as the season progresses."
Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM) secretary Edwin Chong also echoed Zhuliang views, saying that Pandelela will gain confidence from the outing.
"I hope she will continue to work hard and produce good results. It is an important year and hopefully, she can maintain form," he said.
Edwin is unconcerned about the mediocre performances of the other divers, who all failed to make the podium.
"When Pandelela started out in the World Series, she was struggling to make an impact. Except for Leong Mun Yee, the others are only in their second year on the tour. It will take time before they can produce results," Edwin added.
The divers will continue their campaign in the Dubai leg, which starts on Friday.
Read more: DIVING: Flying Pandelela sounds warning - Other - New Straits Times