The Amazing Olympians

Some rights reserved by Alexandre Moreau | Photography from Flickr.com

Usain Bolt, king of the sprint once again in London 2012. Some rights reserved by Alexandre Moreau | Photography from Flickr.com

So I guess that’s all the synchronised swimming, fencing and pole-vaulting I’ll be watching for the next four years or so. The Olympics are about the only time these sports, among others, get the kind of coverage they get in the past weeks. We learnt a few things we forgot from four years ago. New rules in some sports, the same old judging biases in others. Many of the “traditionally strong” teams have performed traditionally. Few big upsets this year.

Sure there are hard feelings in many events, to believe otherwise would be naive. And yet, can we blame the athletes? For many of them it is one of maybe two or three times they get to compete with the best across the globe. Of course there will be tantrums when a call is thought to be unfair.

That being said, the atheletism and sportsmanship displayed at the games never fail to enthrall. The sheer power on display at weightlifting events, the split-second finesse in fencing and the grace displayed from the diving board, those displays remind me of the kinds of limits people with steeled will can break.

Well, that’s that for now. Onwards to World Cup 2014 and the next Summer Olympics in 2016! The closing ceremony was one great sing-along too, if you haven’t seen it.

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Why Importing Athletes Probably Can’t Hurt

Feng Tian Wei, Singapore's first individual Olympic medalist in over 40 years

On Wednesday, 1 Aug 2012, Feng Tian Wei became the first Olympic medalist for Singapore in over 50 years. I am a Singaporean, and for this, I am proud. Some will go on about her roots being from China, making her not actually Singaporean. Well, I say, so what? If they can do better than what our current stock of players, then we must put them up as our best foot forward. A win, in many cases, spurs support and that in turn spurs more wins. If this is what it takes for us to get started, then I say why not?

With hope, these ‘imports’, as they are often referred to, will help build up a team that is natively Singaporean. That will not happen soon though. Look around the London 2012. Athletes from geographical locations other than the one they are representing are strewn all over. Some countries have niches in which they traditionally perform very well in. They get governmental support to train atheletes in that area. Many athletes are recruited, and the best are cherry-picked to represent their home country. What then happens to those who aren’t? They aren’t the best there, but surely they could beat the best in many other countries. It makes sense for them to look overseas if they are to continue their quest for a place in the Olympics. And so they willingly become ‘exports’.

I feel this does two things. One, it evens out the sporting landscape a little. Two, it drives improvement in the sport. With talent spread the world over, the best must get better as more athletes get training from some of the best on the globe. Sports benefit greatly in that way, and audiences will inevitably get a better show. The proverbial win-win.

We sometimes like to say ‘haters gonna hate’. I guess that is true. Perhaps some foriegners in Singapore deserve a stern chiding, but the flying in of athletes is something I can live with; and I don’t say this just because we’ve won something. Or do I?