04 Jul The Olympic (Hunger) Games
This Singapore Athletics wildcard selection thing is quite exciting isn’t it?
Let’s look at it from a rower’s point of view.
Considering that since I qualified for Rio, apart from the incessant Olympic posts that I put on social media relieving my utter happiness on the news, I haven’t really used my Olympics card to my advantage.
One of the rowers in Sydney said I should use it, especially when my boat gets shifted to a dodgy rack which takes an extra 5mins to take it out for training, I should be flashing the “I am an Olympian” card to ensure that I get a better, more accessible rack. HAHA.
Another example where I could use my Olympics card (again as suggested by my caring friends in Sydney), is when I get stopped at the Sydney Airport. I should ask the immigration officers, “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?” hahaha! Ahh, friends, you know how much they love you.
But don’t worry, I haven’t done that (yet) and don’t particularly intend to use the Olympic card, unless deemed necessary. I don’t play the arrogance card anyway because it is just a lame excuse to act like a jerk. I play the hard-to-get card quite often though just because I admit I totally suck at replying to emails, FB messages and WhatsApp messages and it doesn’t help that I’m always not around.
And because I’m very used to the world being an unfair and cruel place, I still do get rejected by companies/people telling me that they won’t sponsor me because I’m not from a sport that they want to sponsor. Like it’s my fault that I happen to be a rower. But anyway, one door closes and another one might open. So I’m still keeping my head up!
Anyway, yes, so story is that the Singapore Athletics gets to select a male athlete to be sent to Rio based on the wildcard. A female marathoner, Neo Jie Shi, qualified from one of her races so there is not wildcard opportunity given to the female athletes. There have been a war online between two camps- Team Mok and Team Soh, both great athletes, on who ought to be selected, who needs to shut up and basically who deserves more. So here are a few observations that I’ve come up with:
I am utterly grateful that Rowing isn’t based on a qualifying time because it would mean the qualification rules would be 20 pages long instead of 2 because it would have to include the water current at the point of racing, temperature, humidity, depth of water, how many ducks were on the water in case some boats might be affected by those birds who don’t seem to have very good peripheral vision and risk getting decapitated by the rowing oars during their morning stroll on the river.
The rule for a continental qualification for rowing (like the one I went to in Korea in April) is that for the Single Scull event, the Top 7 qualifies and for the Lightweight Double Sculls, you gotta be Top 3 to make it. The rule also states that if your nation qualifies for both the Single Scull and the Lightweight Double Scull for the same gender, the organisers would like to make life a bit more interesting by making you choose only one out of the two boats to send to Rio. (Which makes me feel like we are actually living in a world similar to the Hunger Games aye?) So in the case of the Asian and Oceanic qualifiers, Vietnam and Korea qualified both their Women’s Single Scull and Women’s Lightweight Double Sculls for Rio but based on the rules only one boat from each nation gets the ticket. Vietnam chose their Women’s Double Sculls and because of that, the rower who was 8th in the Single Sculls (i.e. Thailand) who initially didn’t qualify because only the top 7 gets through, now gets to go to Rio. And for Korea, they have chosen their Women’s Single Sculler instead so the Women’s Lightweight Double Sculls have to forgo their slot to the 4th boat (i.e. Hong Kong). In other words, if you don’t quite qualify, you might have another chance but your fate lies in the hands on another nation based on their decision. Which brings me to the situation that the athletes from SA is facing, whereby their fates are determined by the NSA, way beyond their controls! I honestly don’t envy their positions hey. Which then reminds me of what my coach told me before my final race in the qualifiers, “get the best position that you can achieve.” Which means that even if I don’t win that race and come in 8th, there might still be a chance to qualify. Which is what exactly happened to rower #8 who still qualified because Vietnam pulled out. But, my coach continued,it is always better to be in a position where your fate is in your hands on not someone else’s. So not winning, is not an option.
Amidst all these exchange of words between these 2 great athletes, we mustn’t forget that Friendship is an Olympic value. Oh, the irony of sports. Men must be drunk when they invented sports and all their rules!
“Here we have the Olympic Games where the best athletes of each nation come together to become the best in the world. Outside of the fighting arena, we want you to forge a bond with your fellow competitors so tight that you call them your brothers. But when the war begins, be merciless, crush your brother’s dreams because if you don’t he’ll smash yours into pieces.”
Or even, “Here is the Olympics Games but the only way you can enter the Games now is whether these people who have higher power than you like your face or not.”
4. Some sports do not even have the luxury of a wildcard selection and the only way we get our asses the Olympics is to fight our way there. (which is recently brought to my attention- thank you, Nadzrie- that rowing gets their "wildcard" selections too but based on the tripartite decision.)
But at the end of the day, I think the moral of the story is that, the easiest way to qualify for the Games, although seemed to be the hardest way as well, is to qualify for the games based on your own performance.
To the guys waiting for their fate to be unleashed upon them,
may the odds be ever in your favour.