2012 Olympics see Malaysia’s first female flag bearer
A Malaysian diver will become the country’s first female flag bearer at the Olympic Games in London later this month.
Pandelela Rinong has been awarded the opening ceremony role, a privilege which is earmarked for the country’s top athlete.
The 19-year-old was named as sportswoman of the year in April and won a silver medal in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, where she was also a flag bearer.
The Olympic Committee of Malaysia (OCM) faced criticism when it announced it was considering Rinong for the honor, with some within the sports community calling for the position to be given to badminton player Lee Chong Wei.
29-year-old Wei was the first Malaysian athlete to win a medal since 1996 when he took home silver from the Olympic games in Beijing.
OCM President Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja’afar told Malaysian news website The Star online: ““We have good reasons for selecting Pandelela. I wish we didn’t have to come to this where the matter has been blown into a big thing.
“We offered Chong Wei the opportunity to be the flag bearer four years ago but he declined because he wanted to be fully focused on his event then.”
Lee is currently suffering from an ankle injury and has said this will be the last Olympic games in which he will compete.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia cited this as a reason as to why he should be the flag bearer, along with his celebrated sporting achievements.
An e-mail vote was held by the executive board members of the OCM with nine out of 12 votes in Rinong’s favor.