Southeast Asia’s Olympic performance

Southeast Asian countries garnered 12 medals in the recently concluded 2008 Beijing Olympics. Indonesia leads the pack with 5 medals: 1 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze medals.

Thailand bagged 4 medals. The most memorable victory was delivered by 33 year old boxer Somjit Jongjohor.

“The former world champion knew this would be his last Olympics and was determined to bring home the gold for his country. In Athens four years ago he lost in early rounds to Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa which led him to believe his time as a competitive boxer was over.”

A controversy erupted when some Thai officials were accused of game-fixing:

“However, the Thai story at the Games is, as ever, about far more than the medals won – it is instead about the stories of Thai officials allegedly ‘trying to sell the country’ by lobbying officials to make sure Thai boxers lose their fights, endless controversies concerning whether the right results were determined in points-scoring events, stories of nuns, monks, orphans and changes of name to change luck and destiny.”

After 12 years, Malaysia won a medal in the Olympics. Student Ai Ling Tan is happy for Malaysia’s silver medalist:

“Anyway, despite Malaysia ranked 75 on the medal tally, I am still happy and proud that at least we won something! At least our country can now be seen on the medal tally! For such a long time, locals have been asking me, “How's Malaysia faring in the games?” And I can only shake in dismay, but now, my friends, now, we've won silver! Oh, so happy! :) Because we couldn't watch the badminton tournament (in which Lee Chong Wei won silver), dad messaged me the results and sarcastically said, “Gold is expensive. So China can only afford to give us silver.” Haha. That's my dad. :)”

Singapore also won a silver medal for table tennis. Some bloggers are not celebrating since the victorious players are not originally from Singapore. But others think this is a non-issue. They are Singaporeans, and their victory in the Olympics should be a cause for celebration:

“I will not go into debate about the degree of ‘Singaporean-ness’ these table tennis athletes are. As far as I am concerned and in the eyes of the Olympic competition, they are Singaporeans. This mighty Olympic medal-winning achievement is a Singaporean record worth celebrating.”

Beside, Indonesian blogger Bleu notes that many table tennis players from other countries like France, Italy, Canada, and Poland have Chinese roots as well.

Swimmer Tao Li was praised for being the first Singaporean to reach the swimming finals. She finished fifth.

East Timor sent a single athlete to the Olympics. Lao Voices is satisfied with the performance of Lao athletes, considering the lack of proper sports facilities in Laos.

“Limited resources, such as Lao training facilities in a pool half the size of a standard Olympic size swimming pool, influence her results. Within those limits her achievements are great.”

Absolute Me cites a news report which reveals the pitiful allowance received by Cambodian athletes.

“The Cambodian team candidates were receiving only 30 USD per month from our National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) while training for the competition. I wonder how can they survive with such a little stipend if they really invest their heart and soul into the game and I wonder how much will NOCC has been putting to support our Cambodian team.”

Meanwhile, Singapore has promised to give $800,000 to athletes who will bring home a gold medal, and Thailand’s gold winners will receive $550,000.

Brunei was excluded from participating in the Olympics. The Brooding Lizard is disappointed:

“I say that the thing about Brunei not being able to compete is a funny thing. They really take last minute planning to the real last minute. For those of you who don’t know what happened – Brunei was excluded from the games because they failed to register their athletes on time. It was only on opening day itself, they decided to try hard to submit their registry.”

The Philippines did not win a single medal. Filipino Twitter users are not amused. Jose Paris twits:

“After the Beijing Olympics, the Philippines now holds the all-time record for the most number of medals in the Games without a gold”

kurenaiseiba adds:

“Philippines, you disappoint me on Beijing Olympics and thanks for wasting my day and time”

Wushu was not officially included in the Olympics but it was part of the Special Olympics Event. Southeast Asian countries received 14 medals for Wushu including a gold medal for the Philippines.

Warlock’s World writes:

“This morning, I saw the awarding ceremony for Wushu and the Philippine national anthem being played for the first time in the Beijing Olympics. I was emotional and proud of Willy Wang, our only gold medalist in this year’s Olympics.

“I do hope that Wushu becomes an official Olympic sport because Pinoy athletes are one of the best in that sport. I guess, we just have to wait for the 2016 Olympics because I just read online that the 2012 London Games didn’t consider Wushu. It even scrapped baseball and softball.

“I do wish that our Philippine sports officials will set their priorities. Funds should be given to sports associations that would enable Pinoys to get gold medals in the Olympics.”

Indonesian composer Ananda Sukarlan played a key role in the Olympics. His recent work was the official hymn for Olympic Sportsmen to celebrate the Beijing Olympic Games 2008 and was broadcasted in 200 TV channels throughout Asia.

Lengua et Pluma salutes the Olympic athletes:

“Athletes have been smashing records at Beijing Olympics much to our awe and amusement. Whether they are beating the world or Olympic records set in the recent Olympic Games or World Championships, or a world record unbeaten for more than decade already, they are sure pumping more energy in this Olympiad. Sports science is definitely far more developed this century, and new techniques have been applied in the athletes’ training programs. The world’s athletes simply performed very well in Beijing. The idea of the Olympic Games anyway is all about conquering human ability. The evolution of men has simply not yet stopped.”

C.V. Tyler has an interesting proposal: A unified ASEAN Olympic Team.

“Having a single, ASEAN team at the Olympics would go some ways toward forming a single ASEAN ethnicity. The advantage of a unified, ASEAN Olympic team is that it would also allow for Southeast Asian athletes who show potential to train in the most advanced athletics facilities in Southeast Asia, alongside the top athletes in Southeast Asia, and be coached by the top coaches in Southeast Asia. The talent from across the region can be consolidated into a few sports centers.”


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