Monday, 18 August 2008

No Silver Lining

O-RingsThe country of Singapore won a silver medal in the team table-tennis event and thus ended the perceived 48 year drought of Olympic plaudits. They lost 3-0 to China in the final.

The Prime Minister postponed the English language version of the annual national day speech to Monday apparently to adjust the timing with respect to Olympic broadcasts. You can just imagine the nationalistic, flag-wrapping frenzy that the medal win has caused. The team's future is assured and there are already talks of using the success as a springboard to further focused effort into development of top sports stars.

I was around someone's house last Thursday and when dinner was served, they turned the TV on and arranged the salad so as not to obstruct the view. It was the first Olympic TV I'd seen and the news was Federer losing. I was just surprised that lawn tennis was even an Olympic sport.

One wrinkle is that the 3 winning (losing?) team members are naturalised Singaporeans; all were born in China. The long history of passport athletes (Zola Budd anyone?) is now an accepted practise but it goes to the heart of what I dislike about the modern Olympics. It's right up there with medal league tables sorted by country, commercial sponsorship and ridiculous, equipment-based sports.