There is always something special about Olympic years, which I believe is in part due to the memories they create. I remember the Harimau Malaya qualifying for their first Olympics in Munich 72 and being glued to my seat as we took on the German team. Sadly we lost 3-0, but I was so proud and inspired every one of our players that day. And then twenty years later in Barcelona, I was overjoyed when I watched Razif and Jalani Sidek win Malaysia’s first medal when they took bronze in the badminton men’s doubles.
A further twenty years down the line, 30 of Malaysia’s finest representatives will be competing against the best athletes in the world at the London games – and right across the country, the rakyat will be cheering them on. However, I would like to step back a little and share with my fellow Malaysians why I believe the Olympics are important to us in this day and age.
Much has changed since the Olympics first made its debut in the Greek world as a sacred festival – the games now encompass 204 countries and lyric and epic poetry has come and gone as an event! However, much remains the same. Athletes still test their limits in the pursuit of success – and come the close, there will be winners as well as other disappointed at having missed out on medals.
But we should not forget that the games are not solely about who wins gold or sets a record, they also play a much larger role. The sight of our fellow humans accomplishing great feats of the mind and body can inspire a generation to strive for excellence. The friendly spirit of competition also has the ability to unite countries regardless of race, religion and political ideals – and I feel that this spirit of togetherness is a very Malaysian one, and it is truly endearing to witness it on such a large scale, especially in a city like London, one of the most cosmopolitan, multicultural and diverse cities in the world. The spirit of the games will truly be alive in a city where 150 languages are spoken on a daily basis, even without the Olympics!
So as we approach the opening ceremony, I hope that these games inspire people to put aside their personal differences and come together in peace and harmony. There is much that we can accomplish in togetherness, and if we could adopt such an attitude all the time and not just once every four years, I believe this world can truly be made a better place. And I ask my fellow Malaysians to please continue to support our local athletes as they look to be champions of the Olympics spirit this year… and hopefully a few events too!