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London Olympics should be known as games that inspired many

Publication Date : 17-08-2012


Many of the Olympics in the past had an epithet, like “the best ever” or “the most exceptional”, or “the safest”. The London Olympics which is winding down after 17 spectacular days, should be remembered as “the most inspiring Olympics”.

Indeed, the games are living up to their motto “inspire a generation.” A younger generation, that is.

It's hard not to be inspired by Danny Boyle's stunning opening ceremony two weeks ago, which was inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest. Any one claims to “love Taiwan” could not have been unmoved by the Isle of Wonder. Once upon a time, Taiwan was also an “Isle of Wonder”. It should regain its wondrousness.

Also, it's hard not to be inspired by such titans like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, for their spirit as well as their feats. They stand tall not only on the medal podium, but in the world arena.

I, for one, was deeply moved when I heard Phelps, the American “flying fish” and “the greatest Olympian of all time”, blame himself for a string of losses in the first couple of days of competition, like the disastrous fourth-place finish in the 400-metre individual medley, conceding the gold medal to teammate Ryan Lochte. Phelps was gracious enough to tell his disconsolate fans that the “Olympics are examples of hard work.” He said his rivals “swam better than I did,” because “they were better prepared.”

That is the Olympic spirit. Modern Olympics are not only about the pursuit of “Citius, Altius, and Fortius” and winning at any cost, but also competing well, according to Pierre de Coubertin, founder of Modern Olympics in 1896. Yes, Phelps has fought well, winning a total of 18 gold medals in three Olympics, plus two silvers and two bronzes. This in itself is an Olympic record which could remain for a long time.

So how about the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who runs like a thunderbolt and became a legend for winning two gold medals in both the 100-metre and 200-metre dash in two consecutive Olympics? He is the track version of Phelps. But unlike the American icon, Bolt, 25, will not retire and is expected to set more Olympic and world records in the future.

f the London Games are meant to “inspire a generation,” they certainly meant it. China's swimmer Ye Shiwen, who broke the world record in women's 400-metre individual medley is only 16 years old. She swam faster in the final 50 metres than Ryan Lochte who won the same event for men. How inspiring! American gymnast Gabby Douglas, who won the women's individual all-around event, is not only young (16 years old), but also the first black gymnast ever to win the honour.

These too, as Phelps has told us, are examples of hard work. Both Ye Shiwen, called jokingly by many in the West as “Yes win”, and Douglas are more and better prepared. They began training as a toddler and were able to “eat bitter”, meaning endure hardship than many others of their age. They should be the inspiration for our taekwondo fighters Yang Shu-jun and Wei Chen-yang, who broke the hearts of their fans for failing to win a medal.

In a sense, the summer Olympics in London look like a macrocosm of the real world. If you look at the medal standings, the ranking is more or less a reflection of a country's economic and political status.

Particularly noteworthy is South Korea, which is aggressive and ambitious enough to move up to the top five, leaving Japan far behind, not to mention Taiwan, which has slipped to the 50s, on par with many Asean nations like Thailand and Malaysia.

The games are a mirror of the real world, an imperfect world in which not all those who worked hard are fairly rewarded. We see cases in which the best did not win, either because of bad refereeing or bad luck, like China's much-anticipated hurdler Liu Xiang, who collapsed at the first hurdle in the 110-metre hurdle sprint because of injury. But no matter what happens, you should never give up and lose the will to win.

Olympics are indeed examples of hard work. China's swim phenomenon Sun Yang, who shattered the world record in 1,500-metre freestyle, finished seventh four years ago in Beijing. He said he has never relaxed a moment since 2008 preparing himself for the London Olympics. It's no fluke that he has won two gold medals and become China's Phelps and new icon.

Taiwan's two-medal finish leaves much to be desired, to be sure. But it could be a blessing in disguise. That is, if we have been inspired by the most inspiring Olympics in London.


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