Gold for Malaysia?
Posted on August 9, 2012, Thursday
IN the current global frenzy for gold medals, Malaysia has just managed a silver in the men’s badminton singles event.
That is no mean feat for a developing country like Malaysia. We are, after all, considered the second best badminton nation in the world. Considering the small size of our nation, this is an honour to every citizen.
Personally, however, I have long had doubts about the prospect of a gold medal for Malaysia in the Olympics. Somehow or other, whenever Lin Dan of China steps onto the badminton court with Lee Chong Wei, I am always struck by the defeatist feeling that Lee is going to lose.
Nonetheless, a silver medal deserves top honours from a humble country like Malaysia. I can only offer my heartiest congratulations to Lee Chong Wei for having put our name on the international map, in two successive Olympics.
There will be many other Olympics, following the current one.
I can still remember a time when the Olympics were meant only for amateur sportsmen and women. But from the 60s onwards, there was little distinction made between professionals and amateurs.
Nowadays, the amateur sportsmen and women seem to have retired into the background, and your Olympic hero is most likely to be a professional.
In a sense, the professional athlete seems to enjoy an advantage denied to the amateur. An amateur relies mainly on his or her individual resources for training and coaching, and is therefore likely to lose out in open competition with the gloriously-funded professional. Naturally, we would expect the professional to win out in the end.
This is my only objection to sport on the scale of the Olympics. In the final analysis, the sporting world belongs to the professionals. Though professional sponsorship has provided huge monetary incentives for people to excel in sports, the advent of too much money has taken away a great many of the strengths that the sporting arena
Eventually, the flood of big money flowing into the world of sports has muddied the waters, and has polluted the original ideals of the Olympics. Now, big money rules and those who can secure huge sponsorship packages are most likely to do well in the medal tally.
Currently, the two richest nations on earth also top the medal tally count: China and the US. This is not an accident. It goes to show that the countries with the biggest wads of cash to invest in the training of their athletes are more likely to do better than poor countries with limited resources, like Malaysia, and by extension, Indonesia.
The competition for Olympic gold has been reduced to a race to pour millions of dollars into the recruitment and training of the competitors.
Despite my personal criticism against the corruption of the Olympic ideal, the fact remains that these games are still among the most outstanding global spectacles we have — an extravaganza of our human endeavour. It is the only fair playing field in our human society. Sporting excellence is still honoured and rewarded by the whole world, irrespective of race or the colour of our skin.
It is only right that every gold medal winner ought to be celebrated like a national hero, in promoting excellence in sport for all humankind. But in actual fact, the whole Olympic games ought to be celebrated although we tend to forget the so-called ‘also-rans’. Without the other contestants, the winners are nothing.
It has been reported that in a town in New Zealand, a bronze medallist was feted as a hero, while in Australia, a silver medallist was pictured sobbing inconsolably.
So the Olympics is collectively a celebration of the whole human spirit, and not limited only to a few gold medals.
On the cultural scale of all human effort, this event remains an oasis of international goodwill devoted to excellence in sports. It is one of the better legacies that we, the human race, are able to leave to our future generations.
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