It is not always about the medal
by The Tired Eye. Posted on August 12, 2012, Sunday
ON Friday morning, Sarawakians woke up to the news that local girl Pandelela Rinong had splashed her way to an Olympic bronze medal in the 10m platform diving event.
This was definitely the proudest moment for Sarawak in the history of the Olympics.
Pandelela may not be bringing home a gleaming gold medal, but she has become the first Malaysian and first female athlete to bring home an Olympic medal outside the sport of badminton.
More than the bronze medal, it was Pandelela’s display of true grit and determination that won our hearts. Pandelela, who had a shaky start in the diving finals, worked her way to the top of the scoreboard to come in third behind China and Australia.
The same can be said for our national shuttler. Datuk Lee Chong Wei may not have brought back a gold medal from the Olympics, but his final match with China’s Lin Dan was definitely not seen as a defeat for Malaysians.
Yes, there were some armchair critics who did not have nice things to say about Chong Wei’s performance on the court. Yes, there were those who thought that the silver medal he brought back was overrated.
Yes, there was careless play that could have been avoided (on both sides of the net) during the three sets played by Lin Dan and Chong Wei, and yes, ultimately Malaysia’s number one shuttler did succumb to Lin Dan’s aggressive play towards the end of the third set.
Despite losing out to Lin Dan, Chong Wei’s display of humble tenacity during the match brought Malaysians together in their support for him.
It even prompted the ESPN commentator to say, “Lee Chong Wei is such a great guy, but Lin Dan is a bit arrogant. Skills win you medals, but attitude wins hearts.”
The comment by the ESPN commentator immediately went viral online and those who understand true sportsmanship will know the significance of the commentator’s remark.
Many people will restrict the concept of sportsmanship to the athletes respecting one another, playing fair and accepting grace with defeat.
However, sportsmanship does not just stop there. Sportsmanship is also about style and attitude of the athletes and also their families, friends and fans.
Sportsmanship even crosses borders. Did anyone of you notice one fan (seated among the Malaysian fans in the stadium) who cheered and raised the Brunei flag each time Chong Wei scored a point?
Such positive and supportive reaction of badminton fans the world over to Chong Wei’s play and Olympics silver displayed the true spirit of sportsmanship.
We are equally proud of Yeoh Ken Nee, the first Malaysian to ever reach the finals in a diving event.
He may not have clinched a medal, but he definitely placed Malaysia on the map in the event by coming in at 10th spot in the men’s 3m springboard final.
The same can be said for cyclist, Azizul Hasni Awang who earned himself a place in Heat 1 during the finals of the Keirin challenge.
Despite finishing sixth in the final event, it was definitely a proud moment for the cyclist to have been there, competing with the likes of Chris Hoy.
What disappointed the Eye was that some reports said the Malaysian was “failing miserably.”
There is no doubt that he could have performed better, but he still made his mark by competing among the world’s best at the London Olympics.
For those who are not familiar with the sport of cycling, Azizul has a long line of credits to his name in the international cycling arena.
The pint-sized Malaysian known as the Pocket Rocketman became the sweetheart of the international cycling arena when he won a bronze medal after a high speed crash in the Keirin final of the 2011 Track World Cup championships.
In an astounding display of sheer grit and determination, he got back on his bicycle after the crash and staggered across the
line to clinch the bronze, with a large splinter of wood from the track protruding through his left calf.
Despite its competitive nature, sport has always been known to bring people of all divides together. Huge sporting events such as the London Olympics often bring about far-reaching consequences to a community and a nation.
At the end of the day, it is not just about the medals the athletes bring home, but how support for athletes, and the persistent, humble attitudes among both the athletes and fans can make us better people individually and also bring us closer as a community.
As for the naysayers and the armchair critics, remember, that to have made it as far as the Olympics, or any other international sporting event for that matter, our athletes have sacrificed many hours to gruelling training.
They live a life of strict regimes and diets, and to top it all off, they face pressure and expectations from family, friends, fans and their respective countries.
To be able to make it to the semi-final and final rounds of an international sporting event is no easy feat.
To be able to unite people from all walks of life through their display of true sportsmanship is something no politician or diplomat will be able to achieve.
If you are quick to criticise and condemn from the comforts of your home and HD television sets, and think you can do better than our athletes who have competed among the world’s best, then why aren’t you competing at the Olympics and hauling back gold medals yourself?