Olympic Games are all about winning, right?

National Swimmer Anderson Lim Chee Wei. Picture: BT file

Sunday, August 5, 2012

THERE is no such thing as a "former" Olympian. Once you have participated at the Games, you are always and forever entitled to call yourself an "Olympian".

While our athletes may not be able to say that they contended for medal places, they can say that they worked their guts out, sweated, strived and lived the Olympic ideals, all on our behalf.

Though the swimmer, Anderson Lim may have come 40 something out of 40 something, he achieved a personal best and set a national record. The same with young Maziah in the 400 metre sprint. London skies cleared for her to not come last in her event; achieve a personal best and again set a national record.

While other countries may boast a medal contender or two, it is something almost uniquely Bruneian that we as a nation cheered ourselves hoarse on Friday night, watching a slip of a girl being overtaken on the first straight by a giantess from Jamaica, and still and quite rightly so, hold ourselves proud.

Our Olympians achieved what they had set out to, that is, to do better than they had swum or run in the past. Maziah beat her own personal best by four seconds, running the fastest sub minute 400 metres for a Bruneian female athlete. So long as they strived, got their guts out and moved the human condition that tiny bit forward, we can say that they have accomplished something.

In contrast, we have the disqualification of eight female doubles badminton players for match fixing. It seems all four teams connived to lose a game, in order to ensure a comparatively easy quarter-final.

Where one team is looking to throw a game, it can be regarded as a lucky upset, but if both teams are trying to lose, it is much harder to hide things. The resultant farcical matches had spectators jeering.

But then, we see gamesmanship at all levels in other sports, teams always look to gain an advantage, even if it means, "taking your foot off the pedal". You do see in international competition, football teams fielding weak sides in the round robins, once the next round has been achieved. It makes strategic sense in a competition to play for the long game. After all, "if you want to make omelettes, you have to break eggs".

Some of the disqualified teams acknowledged that what they had done was wrong and that they had not lived up to the Olympic ideal. The disqualification would seem to me to be correct. At the very least the players owed it to the public to deliver a performance. How could you claim the title of an Olympian, if when called to do so, you fail to give anything but your best?

A comparison of the two, in the end illuminates to me the Olympic spirit: the plucky little girl running not to be last and a nation's pride, and a world number one, looking to lose for the sake of a medal.

The views expressed by the author are her own and do not reflect the views of The Brunei Times.

The Brunei Times