“The essence of the Youth Olympic Games is not winning, or not even to make medals, but to bring the youth of the world together, to play and to have competition.” – Sepp Blatter, FIFA president, 12 Aug 2010
This (long) short summary is for those who come in second-best.
After ending 7 days of deployment at Bishan Stadium covering Youth Olympic Games Athletics, I’ve talked to a lot of athletes. There are only so many gold medal winners, so I interviewed people who didn’t get medals, or just missed the gold. Unlike an interview with TV or talk with the newspapers, speaking to athletes immediately after their competition has ended brings out a different element in them, something unscripted, impulsive.
So I present you with who I feel – in personal opinion – are the heroes of YOG’s six days of athletics competition. All of them (except one) narrowly missed out on gold, or for a place in the final.
All of them are on the list because second-best doesn’t always equal disappointment. All of them have character, honesty and a pure will to break their own personal records.
Because this blog celebrates athletes who try, try, try – even when they just miss their ultimate goal:
“Yes, I want to win. But I know the others are very good. So maybe a medal will be enough.”
– Bianca Razor (ROU), after her qualification heats on Thursday, 19 Aug 2010.
“I do not fear the rain, because my name in my country means ‘of the rain’…. I feel like I’ve touched gold. My country will be so proud, because we all say steeplechase is the Kenyans’ race.”
– Virginia Nyambura (KEN), winning the Girls 2000M steeplechase in heavy rain at Bishan in a PB of 6:29.97
“I had to go all out. I didn’t want to regret.”
– Mao Yanxue (CHN), after going from 5th place to 2nd place in the last round at the Girls 5000M Race-walk final at Bishan on Saturday, 21 Aug 2010
“She’s got class, that girl… she’s got every right to keep trying.”
– Commentator at Bishan on Wu Meng-Chia (TPE). She had outjumped everyone at the ‘B’ final on Sunday, 22 Aug 2010, but still continued to try to break her personal best in the morning heat.
“Things like that happen. I’m still thankful for silver, because it was so close… the Brazilian guy deserves all my respect for winning the gold.”
– Matsubara Sho (JPN), gracious after being beaten by 4 cm by Brazil’s Caio Dos Santos at the Boys’ Long Jump ‘A’ final on Sunday.
“She’s tearing up the competition!”
– Commentator at Bishan, watching Liao Ching-Hsien (TPE) in her heats. She missed out on the ‘A’ final by 0.02s, but still went on to beat her PB at the ‘B’ race in 11.88s.
“I enjoyed it. That’s what’s most important!”
– Nashimoto Masaki (JPN), still happy despite coming in 2nd in the 100M final on Saturday, 21 Aug 2010.
“I knew the others were faster and stronger. So I just stayed with the leader… and I hoped for a medal.”
– Moe Kyuma (JPN), finishing 2nd in the Girls 3o00M ‘A’ Final in 9:23.70
“I’ve been doing this (the 400M) since 2005. I left for several years to play football, but I’ve returned… What would a win here mean to me? Everything… I need to do it for myself.”
– Nikita Uglov (RUS), after winning the Boys 400M qualification heat . He eventually placed 7th for the ‘A’ Final on Saturday, 21 Aug 2010.
“Alhamdulillah (Praise God)… All that matters is that I can match my pace with them.”
– Hamza Driouch (QAT), after finishing 3rd in the Boys 1000M ‘A’ Final in 2:21.25. He was later awarded the silver when the 2nd placed runner was disqualified.
I would hope to see some of these boys and girls again when they race among the best men and women in the world at London 2012. But for now, let them inspire us as we also keep trying – keep trying to better ourselves.
(This post is possible only because of the efforts of the Pool Photographers (I give them all due credit) & my team of reporters at Bishan.)