SEPANG: Pandelela Rinong Pamg, who won a bronze medal for the 10m platform dive at the London 2012 Olympics, says she is thankful for the opportunity to compete.
She described her medal win as "an honour" and said she hoped her role as the country's female Olympic medal winner would inspire the youths, and especially diving, as it was not a very popular sport.
"I hope to keep training for the next four years (in preparation for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics)," she told reporters after her arrival at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Tuesday morning.
The self-described "low-profile" 19-year-old Sarawakian lass also thanked the people of Malaysia, her supporters and her family for standing by her.
Earlier in the morning, Pandelela fans gathered at the KLIA to greet and congratulate her upon her return.
There were some familiar faces in the crowd, including 28-year-old S. Padmarajh, who had turned up last week for silver medallist Lee Chong Wei's return.
He said turning up for the second time to greet Pandelela was only right.
"We should be proud of our athletes," he said.
"Every Malaysian who can be here should be here. I turned up for our hero, now I'm here to see the queen."
Thirty-eight students from Bukit Jalil Sports School turned up at the airport, accompanied by teacher Samsyul Hisyam and officials.
"She has really inspired our students, especially the girls, in the field of aquatic sport," he said.
Hisyam said he was not surprised that Pandelela had reached such heights as she was exceptionally talented and determined.
Pandelela is the first Malaysian woman to win an official Olympics medal, and the first Malaysian Olympian to win one in an arena other than badminton.