Archive for the ‘Olympics’ Category

London bids farewell to Paralympic Games.

Monday, September 10th, 2012

LONDON: The closing ceremony of the most successful Paralympic Games rounded off a spectacular summer of sport in Britain as the Olympic Stadium once again hosted a memorable party for athletes and fans alike on Sunday.

Paralympians rose and joined in with the Mexican waves inside the vast arena in east London after the end of the 11-day festival of sport in which China finished top of the medal table.

The Asian powerhouse bagged 95 golds in their 231-medal haul with Russia (36 golds, 102 overall) and hosts Britain (34 golds, 120 overall) in second and third respectively.

“We’ve had the most extraordinary summer of sport,” London Olympics chairman Sebastian Coe told a news conference on Sunday, while International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Philip Craven could barely believe the amount of coverage.

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Pandelela To Study Sports Science At UM

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR:  — National diving queen Pandelela Rinong Pamg will pursue her study in the field of sports science at Universiti Malaya (UM) and is currently awaiting conformation of admission to the university.

The Olympic bronze medalist said she had chosen to pursue her study in UM as the university was closer to her training centre in Bukit Jalil.

“I have transport issue. If I were to study in a university located far from Bukit Jalil, I will have problems to travel between the two locations.

“Furthermore, my teammate, Brian (Nickson Lomas) is also studying there (UM),” she told reporters after attending the launch of new Oris wrist watch here today.

Present was her fellow Olympian, track cyclist Mohd Azizulhasni Awang.

Earlier, Pandelela and Mohd Azizulhasni each received the newly-launched wrist watch, which was given in honour of their success and contributions to the sports industry, especially at the recently-concluded London Olympics 2012.

The 19-year-old diver also expressed hope that she would be able to commit to the study field of her choice and that she would be able to popularise and contribute more to the development of diving sport in the future.


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Britain’s Party: The London Games Rock On at the Closing Ceremony.

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Martin Meissner / AP

Martin Meissner / AP
Fireworks explode over the stadium during the closing ceremony of the London Games on Aug. 12, 2012

I was rushing to catch a train to Olympic Park for the closing ceremony and checked the electronic board for when the next one was coming. Instead, the sign announced that Anthony Joshua had won another gold medal for Team GB in superheavyweight boxing. That brought the British gold-medal haul at the London Games to 29, compared with just a single Olympic title in 1996. A group of Brits in a similar state of haste crowded around the board. Surely they shared my frustration at not knowing when the trains were to depart? But they burst out cheering. A girl with a nose ring took a photo of the sign with her iPhone. “Wonderful, innit?” another exclaimed. I felt like the Grinch who stole the Olympics.

Patriotism, it must be admitted, is easier to forgive in countries with a smaller global footprint. The chant of “USA, USA” might prompt fears of hegemony in some places, but who didn’t love it when the Fijians shook their grass skirts at a weight-lifting competition or judo fans from Nauru (the tiniest nation at the Olympics) broke out into a whoop-whoop-whoop-hoo-hoo-hooooiiii (which I can only imagine must be a traditional South Pacific cheer)?

(PHOTOS: The Show-Stopping Olympic Closing Ceremony)

So what to make of Great Britain, the empire on which the sun once never set but which has now been demoted to the world’s seventh largest economy? Throughout the London Games, the British deployed their best tactical weapon: a self-effacing sense of humor. It was as if the nation were emphasizing its insignificance, not so much a sceptered isle, in Shakespeare’s words, as much as a wee scattering of rocks in the North Atlantic. The world was charmed. How threatening are the Beatles, Mary Poppins and Mr. Bean?

But when home-team medals came rushing in — and not just in what the British term the sit-down sports of rowing, cycling and equestrian — the mood turned so earnestly enthusiastic that even an American would feel right at home. The Union Jack, which rarely flies on private flagpoles, fluttered from windows and balconies. Where was the British arched eyebrow, the irony held so dear? What would the country do with all that winning?

Cue the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. The stage was set with an understated London panorama wrapped in newsprint, as if the Olympics were an order of fish and chips to be discarded the next day. Then an actor dressed as Winston Churchill burst out of Big Ben. The stage turned into a canvas for Damien Hirst, which was described in the program notes as “a centrifugal explosion of red, white and blue — an expression of the dynamic, anarchic energy of British Pop art.” By the time “God Save the Queen” rang out, the stage erupted in candy-colored hues, and Union Jacks flew from every cute little British vehicle.

by Hannah Beech / London.

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Olympics, the road ahead

Monday, August 13th, 2012

IF the accomplishment of shutter Datuk Lee Chong Wei and diver Pandelela Rinong Pamg at London Olympics is anything to go by, there is truth to the saying “good things come in small packages” ( our spicier national language version being kecik-kecik ciliu padi)

Which is not to say that either Chong Wei or Pandelela are small people; rather, as a small country, Malaysia didn’t do too badly at the Olympics. Chong Wei came within a whisker of beating China’s Lin Dan for the men’s badminton gold. Considering that Malaysia only has about 28 million citizens, and China has 1.34 billion, the fact that our champion gave their champion a real run for his money is absolutely thrilling.

The same with Pandelela, who brought Malaysia to third place after China and the United States (population: nearly 314 million) in the women’s 10m individual platform dive.

But then, in sports, the size of one’s country is never a measure of one’s probable success. Sure, large population countries like China and the US have a larger pool from which to choose, but that doesn’t stop Australia (population 22.88 million) from being such a major medal contender. In fact, up to yesterday (Saturday) evening, Australia has won a total 447 medals from its 27-Olympic runs, compared with the United States’ 2,387 in 26 Olympics. And, how to explain Jamaica, which has a population only 3.33 per cent that of Malaysia’s, winning 10 medals so far in this Olympics, having sent only 50 athletes in four sports? From a total 17 summer Olympics, Jamaica has won 65 medals. And take Grenada (population: 110,821, with an area smaller than Kota Baru, Kelantan), which sent only nine athletes for three events. After eight Olympics, Grenada won its first medal recently — a gold! As far as performance per capita is concerned, as ranked by, Grenada is No.1, Jamaica No.2, Australia (11), the US (42), Malaysia (68), and China (72). Malaysia may not have won gold yet, but we have won silvers and bronzes, and we have now gone beyond badminton only. Not only that, but, unlike sportswomen in countries like Saudi Arabia, who have difficulty in even getting to the Olympics because of societal ultra-conservatism, sportswomen in Malaysia not only go in some numbers, but one has now even won (an officially recorded) medal. So, while we might bewail Chong Wei’s eventual retirement, the fact is that the road is wide open for Malaysian athletes.

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What now after Chong Wei?

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

We need to simultaneously develop badminton talent and push other sports to stand a decent chance of doing well in the Olympics.

ANYONE who saw the match between Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei and China’s Lin Dan for the Olympics badminton gold would not blame Chong Wei for losing.

At the end it was so close that it could have gone either way but Chong Wei was left with silver, his second consecutive defeat to Lin Dan in the Olympics final.

There are two things that come out starkly in the wake of that memorable match – one, there is a dearth of badminton talent for Malaysia after Chong Wei exits the stage. Two, the focus of all that attention on badminton and that elusive gold detracts from some real achievements made by Malaysia in other sports in this Olympics.

If badminton had been an Olympic sport in the 1950s, Malaysia, then Malaya, would have most likely got a gold in either the singles or doubles or both in which they were dominating the world at that time.

For eight straight years from 1950 to 1957, Malaysians Eddy Choong and Wong Peng Soon took the All-England badminton singles title, the de facto world title, sharing it equally between themselves at four times each. Over this period, Malaysians were doubles champions four times.

But after 1957, the Danes and the Indonesians dominated with Tan Aik Huang in 1966 being the lone Malaysian winner until Muhammad Hafidz Hashim pulled a surprise win in 2003. And then Chong Wei came on the scene, winning in 2010 and 2011 and losing to Lin Dan this year after having beaten him in 2011.

We had a better showing in the doubles since the 1950s with Ng Boon Bee and Tan Yee Khan, winning in 1965 and 1966. In 1971, Boon Bee won with Punch Gunalan and then it was a long break before brothers Razik and Jalani Sidek in 1982. There was one more victory in 2007 from Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong. The pair lost in the play-off for the bronze in the current Olympics.

The main change in the badminton scene was the rise of China and South Korea from the 80s to become world beaters, with China being strong in both singles and doubles and South Korea in doubles.

Among the traditionally strong badminton countries such as Indonesia, Denmark and Malaysia, Malaysia has had the greatest decline, with Chong Wei’s arrival on the scene stopping the slide somewhat.

Now, in the world ranking for badminton we have just one, yes one player, in the top 25 – Chong Wei trailing Lin Dan at No 2. China has five (seven if you include Hong Kong), Indonesia has four, Denmark has four, Japan has two and India has two.

Malaysians in the top 50 are Daren Liew at 27, Muhammad Hafidz Hashim at 30, Chong Wei Feng at 32 and Tan Chun Seang at 39, illustrating the yawning chasm between our next best players and Chong Wei.

In men’s doubles, we have just two pairs in the top 25, one of whom is Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong, ranked eighth.

With Chong Wei going into his thirties, the outlook for badminton is pretty bleak indeed and with it goes our hopes for gold for a while with our performance in other sports too far below the best.

by P. Gunasegaram.

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In true Olympian spirit

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

The Olympiad should be a reminder that scores of our ex-national sportsmen and women deserve better recognition and honour.

IT was designed to depict spirit of our warriors at the 2012 London Olympics but the tiger-striped costume ended up looking patently garish.

Several fitting English words come to mind but the apt Malay one to describe the gaudy effect is carca marba.

Too many colours and features resulted in a jumble that made it to the list of outfits made fun of at the opening ceremony.

But to be fair, our garb wasn’t too bad when compared with the likes of Spain, Russia and Ukraine and we were not in Time mazagine’s rather biased “Best, the Worst, and Just Plain Weird” list.

The jury was unanimous on Spain’s attire, which one sports website described as “a cross between nerd chic and ’70s race car driver moonlighting as a porn star”.

The costume was designed for free by Russian brand Bosco, which also made the unpopular gear of Russia and Ukraine.

Unperturbed by critics, Spain’s Olympic Committee president Alejandro Blanco said: “When you measure the difference between 1.5mil (RM5.8mil) of public money and free clothes, there is no discussion.”

It has been reported that the Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation designed our tiger-themed costume but there was no mention of whether this was done with or without cost.

But why was a government body given the job? Shouldn’t all talented Malaysian designers be given a chance to create it through an open contest?

The same should have been the case for designs involving National Day logos and slogans, as done in the past.

The ditched hodge-podge Merdeka Day logo is a classic example of why politicians and officials should not be given cartes blanches to decide on occasions or events crucial to national unity.

When Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak took over as Prime Minister in 2009, among the noteworthy things that he said was: “The days of the Government knows best are over”.

It seems that some dinosaurs in the system still don’t get it.

But to come back to the Olympics, Malaysia has already made the headlines – for offering the richest rewards.

In addition to the RM1mil for a gold medal offered by the Govern­ment, a local furniture firm has pledged a matching RM1mil.

And if the medal comes from badminton, there would be another RM2mil, in the form of 12.5kg gold bar, from KL Racquet Club owner Datuk Seri Andrew Kam, who also owns a gold mine.

Olympian Ng Joo Pong hopes that the offer of millions can motivate our athletes into winning that elusive first gold medal but feels that the spirit of competing for national honours is more important.

by Veera Pandiyan.

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Weather turns extreme

Monday, July 30th, 2012

It was lucky the Olympics opening ceremony was not washed out by rain, because floods, heat waves and droughts are on the rise this year.

FRIDAY night’s opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London was widely acclaimed for its spectacular display. But besides the brilliant design and smooth implementation, another factor played an important role – luck.

It was lucky that the ceremony was not ruined by rain. Just a few weeks ago, much of Britain was deluged by floods caused by a lengthy spell of rain.

TV screens and newspapers were filled with images of cars being washed down streets that had turned into rivers.

Even now, the Olympic Games organisers, athletes and spectators alike must be keeping their fingers crossed that there is no major downpour in the days ahead.

The unusually intense rainfall and floods have reached historically worst levels in Britain. In January, a government report said that flooding caused by heavier rainfall will be Britain’s worst effect from climate change in the coming decades, costing damage valued at billions of pounds a year.

Extreme weather events are of course not confined to Britain. They are taking place all over the world at an increasing rate and with damaging intensity.

Only last week, at least 77 people died and thousands were displaced in the worst flooding to hit Beijing in more than 60 years. This was due to a long downpour on July 21.

It was the heaviest rain in Beijing since records began in 1951, causing rivers to burst their banks and flood major highways, submerging cars with people trapped inside, and sweeping houses and people away.

Meanwhile, the United States is facing a severe heat wave and drought. This has caused significant falls in farm output, with serious effects on global food supply and prices.

The dry weather in the United States is partly attributed to La Nina, which has a cooling effect on the Pacific Ocean, bringing warmer and dryer weather to the south of the country, including Texas whose agriculture has been devastated in the past year.

But many climate scientists are also linking the drought to climate change. According to Peter Stott of the British government’s Met Office Hadley Centre, La Nina is only part of the story.

Stott co-authored a recent study which links climate change with the Texas drought and other extreme weather events. Interviewed by the Voice of America, he said his study found “clear evidence for human influence on the Texas heat wave and also in the very unusual temperatures we had in the United Kingdom in 2011”.

According to the study, the 2011 Texas drought was 20 times more likely to occur than in the 1960s as a result of greenhouse gas emissions. The heat wave last November in England was 62 times more likely to have occurred than 50 years ago.

by Martin Khor.

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The 2012 Olympic Games Open with Lots of Bangs—and a Whimper.

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Dylan Martinez / Reuters

Dylan Martinez / Reuters
Fireworks explode over the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games July 27, 2012.

Oh Danny Boyle. The Slumdog Millionaire director’s opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics started with such verve and promise. There were fireworks! There were sheep! There were geese! There was electricity in the stadium, not just the kind generated by 80,000 people in a state of excited anticipation but also a clever arrangement of LED panels at every seat that sent pulses of color across the stands. Rustic folk strolled beneath fluffy cumuli and disported themselves in a vision of the green and pleasant Britain celebrated in verse by William Blake at the beginning of the 19th century, as the industrial revolution gathered steam. By 1916, when Sir Hubert Parry set the poem to music, creating the greatest of all anthems, “Jerusalem,” ever more Britons lived in cities and worked in factories; world war would soon further threaten Blake’s idyll. Boyle’s history appeared to cast industrialists as the greater danger, though the program notes made clear that the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, played by Kenneth Branagh, should be regarded as a hero. Great chimneys sprouted from the stadium floor and the once carefree yokels were transformed into drudges. It was powerful and surprisingly scary for an event that at previous Games has dazzled but never daunted. “This is ****ing terrifying!! i want my mummy,” tweeted the British critic and journalist Giles Coren.

(INTERACTIVE PANORAMARe-live the Opening Ceremony)

And it got better, at least if what you wanted from London 2012 wasn’t a poor man’s Beijing or an updated Sydney, all spectacle and not much substance. In the segment entitled “Happy and Glorious,” Boyle served up great dollops of the quirky humor that sustains his compatriots. A filmed sequence showed James Bond, in his current, Daniel Craig-shaped iteration, on a mission to Buckingham Palace. He is greeted by a pair of corgis and then by the Queen, “in her first acting role,” according to the Olympics organizers though she’s arguably been performing as the Queen since 1952. They board a helicopter and fly to the Olympic Park, and in a coup de théâtre, a real helicopter materialized above the stadium, and 007 and Q (or their stunt doubles) parachuted to the ground. And Her Majesty, in the same fetching apricot-colored gown she wore for the filmed sequence, took her seat in the box.
by Catherine Mayer.

With royalty and rock, Britain opens its Olympics.

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

FIREWORKS enlighten the Olympics. –Photo taken from

LONDON: The queen and James Bond gave the London Olympics a royal entrance like no other Friday in an opening ceremony that rolled to the rock of the Beatles, the Stones and The Who, Associated Press reported.

And the creative genius of Danny Boyle spliced it all together.

Brilliant. Cheeky, too.

The highlight of the Oscar-winning director’s $42 million show was pure movie magic, using trickery to make it seem that Britain’s beloved 86-year-old Queen Elizabeth II had parachuted into the stadium with the nation’s most famous spy.

A short film showed 007 driving up to Buckingham Palace in a black London cab and, pursued by her majesty’s royal dogs – Monty, Willow and Holly, playing themselves – meeting the queen, who played herself.

“Good evening, Mr. Bond,” she said.

They were shown flying in a helicopter over London landmarks and a waving statue of Winston Churchill – the queen in a salmon-colored gown, Bond dashing as ever in a black tuxedo – to the stadium and then leaping out into the inky night.

At the same moment, real skydivers appeared in the skies over the stadium throbbing to the James Bond soundtrack. And moments after that, the monarch appeared in person, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip.

Organizers said it was thought to be the first time the monarch has acted on film.

“The queen made herself more accessible than ever before,” Boyle said.

OLYMPIC RINGS assembled above the stadium. Photo by Associated Press

In the stadium, Elizabeth stood solemnly while a children’s choir serenaded her with “God Save the Queen,” and members of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force raised the Union Jack.


SHOW TIME: Rehearsals have taken place over the last week to ensure everything is ready for the Opening Ceremony Photo: AFP

The boat is being piloted by David Beckham who played an important role in bringing the Games to London and has been a big supporter ever since. Carrying the Torch on the boat is Jade Bailey, a young footballer tipped to become one of the sporting stars of the future. It set off from Tower Bridge to make its way to the Olympic Stadium.– Photo taken from

INTERIOR VIEW of the Olympic Stadium. –Photo taken from

EXTERIOR VIEW of the Olympic Stadium and the Aquatics Centre are lit up during the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Park on 27 July. –Photo taken from

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To understand this Olympics, step back into history.

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

THIRD – TIME HOST: In 1908, London stepped in at the last minute.

THE London Games, the 30th Olympiad, begins this morning, the third time the city is hosting the Games, the only city to do so. There will be 10,490 athletes from 205 nations competing in 26 sports. For the next 17 days we will be watching them trying to be “faster, stronger and higher”, the very spirit when the modern Olympics was resurrected in Athens in 1896. There are those who will excel and others who will flounder, but as Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the man responsible for reviving the Games famously said, “the most important thing in the Olympics is not the winning but the taking part.”

It has been 104 years since London hosted its first Olympics (1908) and 64 years since the last one (1948). The 1908 games was the fourth Olympiad since Athens. London then was the centre of the universe. Edwardian England had a lot to prove to the world in terms of superiority and class. The US hosted the third Olympics in St Louis in 1904, understandably under the watchful eyes of the Europeans. Even de Coubertin did not attend but instead sounded the alarm that “the Olympic spirit had not been sufficiently stressed”.

To understand this Olympics, one must go back to 1908. Rebecca Jenkins came out with an incredible book, The First London Olympics 1908: The Definitive Story of London’s Most Sensational Olympics To Date. This is a sporting book with a difference, it dwells not just on history but the people behind the scene and the trials, tribulations and successes and failures of the athletes involved.

The truth is London was not even supposed to host the 1908 Games. The eruptions of Mt Vesuvius in 1906 derailed the Italian plan to showcase Rome. De Coubertin needed a replacement fast or else the Greeks would insist it was their birthright to host the Olympics every four years. After all they did hold their own games in 1906, which is not recognised as part of the four-year cycle by the Olympic committee. De Coubertin found allies in the form of Theodore Cook, Lord Desborough and Robert Laffan, who were instrumental in organising the London Games.

They had no government support (the British leadership believed it should be a private initiative), no stadium and worst, not enough time. It was up to Desborough to make it happen. Lucky for them, there was a Hungarian émigré by the name of Imre Kiralfy. He was a showman with massive ambition. He was planning a Franco-British Exhibition, the biggest ever exhibition in Europe. He agreed to build the facilities for the games, including the stadium. While mindful that all the previous two games were associated with exhibitions, Kiralfy offered the organisers something else — the freedom to manage the Games and no financial worry.

The unpredictable English weather created havoc on the games, especially during the first few days (looks like history will repeat itself). But despite rivalries between nations (especially between the US and Britain) and lots of complaints about fairness and nepotism on the part of the judges, the London games was indeed a memorable one as promised by Desborough. It was also the first to be filmed, when moving pictures were still in their infancy.

by Johan Jaafar.

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