The Olympics are still going on and while I’m not a huge fan of this whole shebang, some events really caught my eye and set me thinking. There are the requisite gold, silver bronze medals but some athletes became champions in their own right without the gold discs.
Off the top of my head, these are the few.
1. Michael Phelps
Being a Singaporean, there’s no way I wouldn’t know how our Joseph Schooling beat his idol and world class swimmer Michael Phelps. Heck, I woke up specially to watch if history would be made and I would get to see our little red dot get gold at least once in my lifetime. And I did.
But what astounded me more was how the world’s best swimmer humbly accepted his rare defeat. An excerpt:
Appearing before journalists after dead-heating for the silver medal in the 100 metres butterfly on Friday, the last individual race of his long career, the most successful Olympian of all time was peppered with questions as gold medallist Joseph Schooling of Singapore sat alongside him.
Gracefully, the American tried to ease out of the spotlight.“Joe should be getting most of the questions,” he eventually told reporters, laughing. “This kid just won a gold medal, guys. Let’s ask him some more questions.”
When a journalist obliged by asking Schooling how it felt to become “the go-to butterflier in the world right now”, the 21-year-old hesitated and glanced to his left at Phelps.
“That’s for you bro, don’t look at me,” Phelps told him.
And this, is how champions become legends.
2. The Refugee Olympics Team
The refugee team competed with the rest of the world as “equal human beings” at the Rio Olympics, marathon runner Yonas Kinde says. Kinde, 36, was the last of the 10 refugee athletes to compete in Rio, coming 90th in the men’s marathon on Sunday. The team of swimmers, judokas and runners competed under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
IOC president Thomas Bach said the athletes were selected to “send a message of hope to all the refugees of the world”. “We are equal now,” said Kinde, who is originally from Ethiopia. “We compete like human beings, like the others.
“We are 10 refugees selected by the IOC and their flag leads us. Sixty-five million follow us, more than one country. We are inspiring them.”
3. One Ring To Rule Them All
The whole world knows that Chinese diver He Zi got engaged at the Olympics. After she received the silver medal for her performance in the women’s three-meter springboard this weekend, her longtime beau Qin Kai proposed right beside the pool. Kai is also an Olympian champ, taking home both his bride and the bronze medal for the men’s synchronized three-meter springboard.
But what people don’t know is that the first proposal belonged to same-sex couple Isadora Cerullo and Marjorie Enya. After the winners of the women’s rugby competition were announced, Cerullo snagged the title of the very first athlete to get engaged at the Olympics, when Cerullo unexpectedly popped the question right there on the field. “I wanted to show people that love wins,” Cerullo told the BBC.
4. Fu Yuanhui
The moment when you threw your racquet on the ground and performed a high jump with cheers and smiles after defeating me, I felt so happy and delighted for you deep down in my heart.
Both of us knew each other for 16 years. Those were the days where pioneers like Taufik Hidayat and Peter Gade was still competing, we was just a nobody. Nobody knew who we are and nobody really cares and pay attention to our game. Speaking about that, I won the first match that we both battle against each other and I never ever thought that the battle will continue 16 years along the road with you.
Both of us went through a lot of defeats and victory together but I have to be a little proud of myself that I am a little bit luckier to own more victory against you in big competitions. Later did I know, you are no longer somebody that I can evaluate by victory and defeat, you are a player who bares bigger responsibilities than I do and both of us deals with our own sweat and passion.
Also, a big thanks to you that I am not only address as any other champions but I am also warmly addressed as one of the players of the greatest rivalry, the ‘Lee-Lin’ rivalry. We are just like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi where the presence of each other represents the eternity of the rivalry.
It’s you who made and shape me to who I am today. I have took most of the biggest champions that is present in our industry but the reason I never back down and be lazy is because you always push me to the core. Competition would be much easier without you but your presence create challenges for me and always make me burst into sweat when I actually don’t have to.
Almost every meet-up we have is seperated by a net on the court and every single meet-up represents your effort and determination. Every single time I take a step forward, you will never back down and instead, u will choose to ‘tailgate’ me and never let me go. So when you train, I train, when you do not give up, I will also not back down.
Throughout all the processes, we turned old now and more young players are up in the battlefield to compete with us. Sometimes we text each other, talking about the young players about how tight their competition among each other is unlike us back then where there was only the two of us. Honestly, although there is only the two of us and it’s ‘lonely’ but I really enjoy the process because it is only you who can bring the best out of me.
Without realising, here we are, meeting in the Rio Olympics for our 4th Olympics together. In the quarter-finals of the Olympics, I met Srikanth Kidambi of India and it wasn’t an easy game for me but I pushed myself just because I know there is a promise I have to fulfil and the promise is to play against you,my greatest opponent.
On the 37th match we played against each other, I lost to you and honestly I have no regrets. You are my greatest rival and I am willing to lose to you. The moment when I hugged you, I really felt everything that happened for the past 16 years is just like a dream.
I will take this jersey and show it to my child in future that there was a man named Lee Chong Wei who was Daddy’s greatest rival and of course Daddy’s best friend.
I have never regret knowing you and playing against you throughout thick and thin. Thank you so much!
Good Luck in the Finals. – Lin Dan.