AUG 3 — The action from London this week has been an absolute feast. We’ve seen some amazing performances, new records set, shock wins and the emergence of several new exciting young talents.
Unfortunately, there have also been several instances of poor and disappointing conduct from athletes and officials. The latest example has been the attempt by the four pairs of female shuttlers to deliberately lose their final group matches so as to manipulate the draw for the knockout stages. Thankfully, they have been disqualified.
There was also World Swimming Coaches Association executive director John Leonard’s appalling comments about 16-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen’s world-record breaking swim in the women’s 400m individual medley. The American had called Ye’s performance “disturbing” and “unbelievable”.
It smacks of hypocrisy and racial discrimination as he said nothing when Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte, 15, and American Missy Franklin, 17, won the women’s 100m breaststroke and 100m backstroke, respectively.
Sadly, a member of Team Singapore also behaved poorly this week. Paddler Wang Yuegu, 31, lashed out at German umpire Claudia Moller after her quarter-final exit in the women’s singles, saying that she knew she was “going to lose points” when she saw Moller.
“My husband is German and I have a private problem with them,” she said. “Someone from their team is abusing their relationship with officials and has arranged for me to have a German umpire. They’re abusing their power and I can’t respect that.”
Bafflingly, and disappointingly, Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) officials have stayed silent even though Wang’s allegations are an attack on another country’s officials.
Eventually, the STTA must do something. Either it has to take up her case to the world body, or castigate her if it finds no merit in her claims. Right now, its inaction suggests an endorsement of her accusations.
Even then, Wang’s outburst reeks of poor sportsmanship and sets a poor example to all young athletes watching back home.
Thank goodness then that two teenagers have shown the world this past week what good sportsmanship is all about.
Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling, 17, may have flopped in his 200m fly heat after an official told him just before his race to change his cap and goggles. But he said after the race: “Champions don’t give excuses. That’s the past. I’m just going to focus and get ready for the 100m fly.”
Then there is British diver Tom Daley, 18, who refused to blame his partner Peter Wakefield, 31, after Wakefield made a mistake during their fourth dive in the 10m synchro platform final, which caused the leading duo to finish fourth. “We’re a team and that’s it. We win as a team and we lose as a team,” he said.
Bravo, Joseph and Tom, and thank you for your fine displays of sportsmanship.
One can’t help feeling it is the teens in London who get what the Olympics are all about, not the adults. — Today
* Gerard Wong is Today’s sports editor.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.