AYG Athletics Day 1: Far Flung Fields

Ayg started yesterday. I was at Bishan watching Athletics.

There weren’t a lot of people, and whatever people I ran into were complaining about ticket prices. Two P.E teachers sitting behind me in a completely empty block of the grandstand were talking about it all day. And when the schedule cancelled the sprints semi-finals, they just walked off, said some not-very-nice-things & left me alone there.

Nine bucks to watch track & field is pushing it a bit too far. At least the first day had enough Singaporeans running & jumping to make all the sec school kids shout & scream, which was probably worth it. Every time a local runner/ jumper’s name got read out the crowd below me (mainly students in their uniforms) went pretty crazy. It’s real rare to see people get worked up over track & field like that – I’ve never seen people cheer & shout & yell for every round the middle-distance people are running.

But, as Alan would swiftly put it, nothing is equal in the long run. The attention the pole vaulters & the sprinters got was phenomenal, while the field events suffered from both the organizers & fans’ attention deficit. A very fierce play-off for the gold medal between two high-jumpers (chinese taipei + hong kong) that went on for almost an hour in the corner D was only announced at the final jump. Discus-throwing went on & ended without the spectators knowing who won. In a track & field event you definitely can’t keep your eyes on everything – there are at least 3 concurrent events, which the sprints dominating the foreground – but some results would be nice.

Still, I felt a bit upset that no one stayed for the medal ceremonies. Everyone was there to cheer the two local bronze medallists. But it makes me feel bad – as a sportsman myself – when, once the victory parade is over, an entire swarm of journalists & photographers mob the local guy, while the two silver & gold winners shake hands with the vip & leave quietly so they don’t interrupt the photography. It also seems not very right when, 1500 medals are being presented, & the stands are practically empty because there’re no locals getting honoured. By then, it was already close to 7, & no one except the volunteers were clapping. There were pockets of overstayers (like me) who got ushered to leave almost immediately.

On days when I don’t have assignments, I will probably go down to congratulate the winners of the later medal presentations. Because it must feel a bit weird to get a gold medal for running 4 minutes flat for 1500, but have no one to stand for your national anthem.

Today there’re no more middle-dist events, mostly semi-finals & hurdles. The Gulf States have been dominating middle-distance & throws, China has been owning everyone in jumps & I’m hoping India can make it a Discus double for guys-girls. Central Asian states (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan etc etc) have the tallest, fairest & possibly most good-looking athletes of the games 🙂 There will probably be many more track & field competitions to come, but if you’re looking for something really international, it doesn’t get any better than this 🙂

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