Pandelela Rinong, our London Olympics diving bronze medalist, has been awarded the National Press Club (NPC) – Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin SM Amin 1Malaysian of the Year award. The Sarawakian lass was presented the award by PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was accompanied by Puan Sri Datin Seri Utama Zaleha Ismail, director of the Naza Group, at the NPC Awards 2012 two days ago.

Pandelela created history in July when she became the first Malaysian female athlete to win a medal at the Olympics by finishing the women’s 10-metre individual platform diving event with third highest points. Her bronze is also Malaysia’s first-ever medal in a sport other than badminton.

“Her achievements were no easy feat and she proved that Malaysians can compete with the world’s best at the highest level. Moreover, she reminded us that with hard work, passion and determination, anything is possible and will inspire a new generation of athletes to strive for excellence,” said SM Nasarudin SM Nasimuddin, joint group executive chairman of the Naza Group.

Named after the Naza Group’s late founder, the NPC – Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin SM Amin 1Malaysian of the Year award seeks to honour Malaysians who have excelled in their respective fields. The inaugural award in 2010 was awarded to cartoonist Datuk Mohd Nor Khalid, more popularly known as Lat. Last year, cyclist Azizulhasni Awang was honoured.

Besides the Olympic bronze, Pandelela had previously won a gold medal in the 10-metre individual platform diving event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, the first Commonwealth Games diving medal for Malaysia.