We watched the Olympic badminton finals live on tv like many other badminton fans in the country. We rejoiced when Chong Wei appeared to take control early on in the game. We agonized when Olympic title slipped through his fingers (again) despite his valiant fight to the end.
He deserved an Olympic medal for an amazing comeback to fight the only man on earth who has the power to deprive him of the much desired title. Unfortunately, there is no such medal nor such category.
Watching his performance last night, it was evident that Chong Wei was extremely well-prepared. He had every aspect of the game excellently covered:
- stamina – checked!
- strokes – checked!
- net plays – checked!
- drop shots – checked!
- smashes – checked!
- deception play – checked!
- shuttle retrievals –checked!
In fact, judging from his play alone – the game strategies, the skills, the net plays, the cross court surprises, the instinctive responses – they were amazing! in terms of skills, he can be said to be the more superior one. From their last Olympic finals encounter in 2004, it is clearly evident that Chong Wei has improved in leaps and bounds, as compared to Lin Dan. But why did he lose the title to Lin Dan again? Chong Wei is more skillful, more agile and more clever in his game. But Lin Dan has one thing that Chong Wei lacks – the one ingredient that is the deciding factor in sports – the killer instinct, the mental tenacity, the final thrust for the kill – the winning mind!
The two men can’t be more dissimilar in character and personality. One is a mild mannered gentleman, who apologizes to the whole nation for his mistakes and failures. The other is a loud and proud tiger whose insatiable hunger to win makes him the champion that others want to hate. Love him or hate him, that is your choice. But that does not change the fact that he has it in him the killer instinct much needed to take on his prey and emerge the winner, every time when it mattered the most.
The game started off well for Chong Wei. We could see the hunger in his eyes. We could feel the killer instinct in him when he put the shuttles down. For a moment, a brief moment, the nation could sense a real hope for the first Olympic medal within grasp. For a moment in time, we all dared to believe that this time, it will be different. This time we will emerge champions for the world to see! Chong Wei believed that too. We could see it in his eyes.
Unfortunately, as the game progressed, as the pressure mounted, as the scores climbed against him, this belief slowly vanished, and we could sense a dread that history is going to repeat itself. And it did, to the disappointment and devastation of Chong Wei and the whole nation rooting for him. The tears he cried were tears of sorrow. He apologized to the nation, for the second time: “I gave it my very best. It was not good enough. I am sorry as the whole of Malaysia was counting on me, but I let them down. Somehow, I just could not finish him off when it mattered and that was the difference.”
A champion never has to feel sorry. A champion is made, not born. A champion never takes losses lying down. A champion has to make winning his habit. A champion believes he is one.
Lin Dan was the stronger believer. And that made all the difference.
Believing in oneself begins from childhood. A child is born with certain characteristics. But it is the people around him – the parents, the siblings, the friends, the community – that shape how the child feels about himself and his place in this world.
A champion is made. Who makes the champion? The nation makes the champion. Did YOU believe that the Olympic title could be in our hands? Did the nation believe that we could do it? Did we truly believe?
But Lee Chong Wei did not fail last night. We must remember that he still won – a silver Olympic medal is still a very commendable feat! Let’s not forget the spirit of the game – that is to foster friendship and sportsmanship amongst the world’s many nations.
So, Chong Wei, you needn’t apologize to the nation. In our hearts, you are king – with or without the crown!
And Baskin Robbins should still give out free ice creams for everyone in the spirit of the Games! Everyone who agrees, say Yay!