Cover Photo: Khairul Imran

The cheery Malaysian diver may have missed out on bronze, but she has definitely won the hearts of all Malaysians and those watching the Tokyo 2020 diving competitions

Like her diving compatriots, 22-year-old Nur Dhabitah Sabri, otherwise known as Dhabitah, headed to Tokyo 2020 with only one thing in mind—to make Malaysia proud. She brought with her a chock-full of determination, her love for the aquatic sport, and a support system comprising of teammates Pandelela Rinong, Ng Yan Yee, Cheong Jun Hoong, and Leong Mun Yee. Little did she expect that she would be the only Malaysian so far to make the finals.

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The multi-medallist, a picture of consistency, tallied a 312.60 total to finish sixth in the semifinals of the 3m individual springboard event at the Olympic Aquatic Centre. Her dedication to the sport and years of hard work were showcased in her form, and her dazzling smile mesmerised viewers at home.

Her habit of smiling, she would later explain, isn’t something that she does on purpose. “I smile a lot because it helps release tension. The pressure is tense before a dive and smiling helps me calm down,” she said.

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Checking in to the event without her compatriot Ng Yan Yee at her second Olympics appearance and maiden appearance in a final meant that the pressure had doubled, if not tripled. Regardless, with her head held high, Dhabitah took a deep breath and dove right in at the finals of the 3m individual springboard event.

Despite giving a commendable performance and surfacing with her trademark smile, she finished fourth with 326.15 points behind Chinese duo Shi Tingmao (383.50 pts) and Wang Han (348.75 pts), and America's Krysta Palmer (343.75 pts). This meant that she only very narrowly missed the bronze.

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A tearful Dhabitah later revealed in a post-event interview with Astro Arena: "I'm not crying because I lost. I'm really proud of myself because these past few months have been difficult for me."

"I lost myself before the Olympics. I lost my confidence. Everything, for me, went downhill. In fact, a few weeks before leaving for the Olympics I felt like wasn't sure about myself. So the fact that I'm able to perform and come in fourth place, I'm really proud of myself," she added.

However, as one would expect from Dhabitah's carefree demeanour, the result of her final Tokyo 2020 dive will neither shake her nor dampen her spirits. “I came close to a medal and I will go home with a positive mindset as this experience will be useful in the future," she said, adding that she'll continue with the same training programme as the 2022 Asian Games and 2022 Commonwealth Games are ahead.

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When asked if she'd like to be an ambassador to encourage a new generation of girl divers, she smiled and said, "Yes, I will. I will. I'll show them what diving is. I hope, with my performance in the Olympics, many young girls would try diving."

Keep smiling, Dhabitah!