Olympic Sportsmen Vs Me

I have never been the type to watch sports. But when Dato’ Lee Chong Wei the national badminton hero qualified to the final after defeating long-time rival Lin Dan I knew I had to witness the possibility of history being made: The possibility for Malaysia to get her first Gold Medal in the Olympics.

Alas, we have to be a little more patient and wait a little longer to achieve that when LCW ‘only’ managed to get a silver medal; his third consecutive one in the Olympics.

I put the (”) in only because I do not think that the word only  should be put there. I still have a dull ache in my heart thinking about last night, to see the disappointment so apparent in our hero’s eyes. More than anything, he feels sorry to disappoint us, the people of Malaysia while we are overflowing with love and compassion for him. He, who trained relentlessly for 3 consecutive Olympics, faced various obstacles, powered through numerous injuries and scandals to make us proud, to place Malaysia- our humble country – on the world map in the sports field. Basically we all just want to give him a big hug for everything he suffered through.

We are so proud of him. Gold or silver, his name is engraved in our hearts as our hero, our badminton legend.

I do not intend to write a full post of Dato’ Lee Chong Wei as my limited knowledge on his autobiography and my average writing skills are too limited to describe his glorious achievements in life. I am here to reflect.

Olympic Sportsmen vs Me.

We live parallel lives, but there are countless things I can learn from them.

They all started with humble backgrounds. Normal people, who somehow discovered they have a potential to do something no one else can do and acted upon that potential to be the best version of themselves. They are not good in everything but they are excellent in their respective fields.

While their peers lay on the couch and watch television they are probably somewhere training, sweating and exerting their stamina to improve their abilities in something they know they can do.

That’s the difference between olympic sportsmen and me. They know what they are good at, what they have a future in and how they can shape themselves to be better and better and finally when their sports career is over, they will pass it down to the younger generations.

I might be good academically but my specialties, my passions, my desires are vague and constantly changing. This is both good and bad. Good, because I strongly believe that we should live life with flexibility, options and choices. To have a very specific purpose in life, and be rigid and controlled in every action, every small detail we do everyday with limited choices just to achieve it is not exactly the life I would want to live. Bad, because I get lost, distracted and some days I just power through the seconds, minutes and hours just to get my responsibilities over with and inevitably wasting my time. Also bad because, I have no idea in what aspect I should improve myself in, I tend to make impulsive choices and decisions without thinking about how it would affect my future because I have no idea what my future will be. I worry a lot about this day by day, especially after I finished school and was suddenly thrown in this sea of choices with no life jacket and a limited ability to swim through it all. It gives me anxiety to the point that I procrastinate thinking about it.

The national athletes carry the name of the country on their shoulders, and so do I. They lift the responsibility of representing Malaysia in sports, I bear the responsibility to represent Malaysia academically. They contribute medals, I will have to contribute my knowledge and channel it in a way that will benefit the country. My whole education is sponsored and supported by the people’s money, the government entrusts me with this responsibility, I should not disappoint them. Just like how these athletes relentlessly practice, improve and work hard, I should do the same in my field. I tend to forget and slack off, but watching them ignited a fighting spirit in me that I will try to keep it burning throughout my life. They inspire me, motivate me. Some of them are even younger than me, and already making the country proud.

My road might be longer, my timeline might be slower than theirs, but that is all the more reason to be consistent in my efforts to be the best version of myself both for myself, and for the people surrounding me. Thank you Olympic sportsmen- for giving me a push in the back in the midst of the busyness of A-Levels and classes and reminding me to always give my all.

I will cherish this spirit long after the games have ended. Thank you.

Do read this heartfelt letter from a fellow Malaysian to Lee Chong Wei, it accurately represents our feelings towards him, it almost brought tears to my eyes and formed a lump in my throat.

Writer’s note:
This was not written by Lee Chong Wei’s mother. It is an open letter written by another mom whose surname also happens to be Lee. We have already made the necessary corrections and you can read the updated article here.

A mother wrote this letter after the Finals at Rio Olympic.

We have translated the post for those who cannot read Chinese.

I was very calm after the match,
I watched the TV screen,
It’s showing scenes of the opponent celebrating as if he was in a concert…
Throwing his racket, kneeling on the ground,
Shouting, crying,
Running around, showing the heart gesture, taking off his top…

I kept on telling myself,
Let me see Lee Chong Wei, let me see Lee Chong Wei,
But when I actually saw you, the way you left the court sadly, I teared instantly…

I cried not because you did not win the Gold Medal,
I cried because I feel for you.

If we look back at Lee Chong Wei’s career journey,
It is an inspirational one.

From the beginning, he was a shy, normal young man,
He loves badminton, he wants to play badminton.

He did not start with a bang,
On the contrary, he was defeated again and again, and was even considered as second-rate player.
Through his own efforts, he finally joined the top players in hall of fame.

Maybe many people will find that,
He always loses to Lin Dan in major tournaments,
But his rank was always higher than Lin Dan.

The reason being that he will not give up the opportunity to compete in any competition.
More competition, means more points, and that pushes up the ranking.

Why can’t he be like any other top player?
Participate only in major tournaments?

It’s because he cannot attain high level trainings back home.
He can only make up to that by joining competitions.
To improve his competitive skills.

Lin Dan once said,
“Lee Chong Wei is a very excellent player,
But I have a excellent team.”

This explained Lee Chong Wei’s hardship perfectly.

Over and over again he surprised his opponents,
Although he looks like he lacks aggression,
But he always managed to force his opponent to focus when they are up against him.

He made Lin Dan fight with all his might – this is Lin Dan’s respect to him.
He fuelled Chen Long’s hunger to win – this is Chen Long’s respect to him.

A person that can be a threat to others, is a good opponent.

And he, threatened his opponents’ status again and again,
Such a person, it doesn’t matter what medal he gets,
Because to his opponent, to play against him is like getting a “Wild Card”.

To me, he has never lost to anyone.
He is just like everyone else, losing to time and age.

No one can be forever young,
There will always be a younger generation that will catch up with us.

He participated in 4 Olympics, 12 years’ time,
He finally won against Lin Dan.
But he will not have another 12 years,
To win Chen Long.

We feel sorry, but not because of the Gold Medal,
We feel sorry for you.
We don’t want you to win for us,
We just want you to win for yourself.

You have spent so much time,
Carrying Malaysia’s flag with you in all the competitions,
You have brought us pride,
Because of your effort,
All of us who are eating Egusi at home,
Can gaze upon our national flag on TV without doing anything.

34-year-old veteran,
There are many reasons to retire.

But because of the lack of talent,
The country needs him.
He fought his very best,
And fought until the very last point.

What was the very last point?
The very last point was the Finals up against China.

He completed “the whole tournament” in the very best way.

Did he lose?
He was World Number 2 throughout the 12 years.

For 12 years, he only lost to World Number 1.
These 12 years, he remained on that position.
But World Number 1 is not the same person anymore.

Perhaps to others, he is forever Number 2.
Perhaps to others, it is his fate.

But to me, he will always be that best Supporting Actor.

He helped propel others, but he himself is not inferior in any respect.

Perhaps many years later,
No one will remember who is the main actor tonight,
But for Malaysians, we will never forget the outstanding supporting actor.

Lee Chong Wei,
For many years, you covered the whole Malaysia Badminton arena.
Today, let us cover you.

Do not apologize to us,
We do not need your Gold Medal,
Because you are our National treasure,
To us, you, are priceless.

Just now my son asked me, isn’t the competition over?
What are you waiting for?
I said,
Waiting for him to stand on the podium to receive his prize,
Waiting for him to wear the medal.
We will accompany you, for the perfect curtain call.

You are our pride.


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