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No easy routes to scaling Olympian heights

Publication Date : 15-08-2012

 

As the wonder of the London Olympics begins to fade and reality sets in, we, as a nation, really have to question our standards.

Lee Chong Wei's silver and Pandelela Rinong's bronze were great achievements which deserve applause. But let us pause to reflect on that gold medal which continues to elude us after 56 years of Olympic contention.

We have to face the fact that we, with some exceptions, are lacking in those Olympian qualities of human endeavour and commitment so necessary for excellence in sports.

The truth is we are victims of our own prosperity. We have slid into the comfortable complacency of expectation rather than exertion. The instant noodle syndrome of instant gratification and vicarious satisfaction.

Most of us are averse to getting our hands soiled or engaging in the toils of physical application necessary to succeed in sports; the self-discipline and sacrifices demanded for any degree of progress.

Today's youths prefer role playing games in the virtual world rather than sweating it out in the sports arena.

Perhaps it is the price of progress where the pursuit of excellence is smothered by the mediocre and the superficial.

A society content in its affluence, happy to pursue plastic delights, plastic pleasures and plastic smiles instead of gold medals.

Perhaps it is the fault of a school system which has opted to neglect sports.

So we are reduced to dreaming of gold, putting our hopes on the shoulders of a valiant few.

The concern is that apart from Chong Wei, Pandelela and Azizulhasni Awang, the others, though they put up a fight, were never really in contention in London.

What is more alarming is that the various sports associations do not seem inclined to do anything about it.

The BAM has asked Chong Wei to battle on till Rio 2016 when he will be 34.

That is a sad reflection of sports here where great talents have largely not been creations of the system.

Chong Wei, Pandelela and Nicol David are products of their own ambition and aspirations. They also had supportive parents. Their success is theirs and theirs alone.

Nicol's appetite for success has not diminished despite having swept all the major titles. She is campaigning for squash to be added to the Olympics, vowing to play on until 2020 to realise her dream.

Chong Wei is similarly challenged by his failure to land that Olympic gold and is ready to chase it down to Rio if his body permits.

Pandelela is not resting on her laurels either, saying she wants another tilt at winning a medal of a brighter hue four years hence.

These are worthy champions who deserve the accolades and rewards for their sacrifices and values.

They are the role models our youth should be learning from.

They must realise that Olympian heights can only be scaled by those who work really hard at it. There are no easy routes to the top.

 

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