Spare our athletes, please!

Why don’t we let our athletes just be, and cheer them on to do their best? Instead, we place such high hopes on them and when they fall short of expectations we get disappointed. Is that good sportsmanship?

Shouldn’t we be giving all the help — monetary, physical and moral — we can to motivate them to excel and then see how they perform at competitions? Athletes also want gold and they strive for it, but they know their limitations, too. They know what they can achieve and what they can’t and yet they give their best.

The fact that we won a silver by the national badminton mixed-doubles pair Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying, another by Pandelela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong in the synchronised 10m platform dive, and a bronze by Azizulhasni Awang in the keirin cycling event is a commendable effort. This medal count is higher than the two we won in the London Olympics. And, we might get a gold or, at least, a silver in the badminton singles when Lee Chong Wei takes on China’s Lin Dan.

We should be proud that our athletes are getting more medals and winning at more international events, instead of politicising their participation or diminishing their achievements with racial undertones — like the two Malay papers which downplayed Chan and Goh’s silver. Seriously!

Surely, we have reached a stage where Malaysians, whatever their ethnic background, are simply Malaysians? It is very disappointing that some Malaysians are still trapped in their ethnic mindset. They have yet to become true Malaysians.

But, I suspect such Malaysians are a minority rather than the majority. What is disturbing is that the minority seems to control the media in wielding the influence to shape the opinions and perspectives of the unsuspecting majority readers.

A good way to counter such media is for other media to express exactly what they think of thoughtless and insensitive reporting through the race lens. People need to speak up against such reporting and, generally, against such bias.

I hope the athletes are not discouraged by the negative publicity they have got from the two earlier mentioned Malay papers. Do your best. Take part in all the competitions you can and win all the prize money and medals you can! The rest of us are rooting for you!

I wrote this article in the hope that my readers will my express their thoughts on this issue. Please write freely. With your comments, more people will read your thoughts and I really believe that would help in countering the negative publicity a couple of our athletes have got.

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