Friday, December 16, 2005

World feats must be given their just dues (16/12/2005 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 16/12/2005
Headline : World feats must be given their just dues

NICOL DAVID (right) deserves all the accolades and rewards she has been
showered with since winning the World Open title in Hong Kong earlier
this month to be ranked World No 1.
She worked hard for it, made sacrifices, took the bold step to leave
her home in Penang to be based in Holland for training, was pushed to the
limits by her coach Liz Irving and personal trainer, Alistair McCaw, and
beaten the world's best to be where she is today.
In short, there was no short-cut to her success.
But Nicol remains that modest young woman despite her being the world's
top-ranked player.
I had the opportunity to meet her this week and in our conversation,
she proved to be a very level-headed and modest person who knows what she
wants. And the success has certainly not changed her simple ways.
In fact, she said: "This victory, all these rewards, recognition and
attention have not sunk in yet.
"And I am sure when they have, they are not going to make me a
different person either as I know there is still a great deal for me to
learn and achieve in the game, as well as stay on top."
Indeed, Nicol has her feet firmly on the ground.
For she knows, with all the praises comes the pressure for the new
She will no longer be the one chasing the rankings, but others will be
out for her scalp.
But she is not thinking much about it because she admitted she was not
gunning for the title this year.
"I just wanted to keep my ranking and take it from there. When there
was an opportunity for me to go for the title, like everyone else, I went
for it. I did not know if I was ready for it, but I gave my best shot and
achieved it.
"Thus despite being the world's top-ranked player, I still have a lot
to learn. And I know there are also going to be ups and downs which I
will take in my stride as I try to be more consistent."
Wise words indeed, because no matter what she says, the same writers
who shower praises on her feats are also going to crucify her whenever
she loses.
The truth is Nicol needs to be given room to breathe and progress
Fine, she has won the world title, but she is only 22 and there is
still a lot for her to learn, as she has admitted.
During our conversation, Nicol proved she was more than capable of
standing on her own feet, especially in managing the media.
She knew what to say, how to tackle "pressure" questions and above all,
she could converse, unlike most of her peers who only give curt replies
or totally shun the press.
Basically, it is her overseas exposure and having to fend for herself
in a foreign land that has helped build her character.
But while Nicol is basking in her glory, I cannot but help think of
another world champion - bowler Esther Cheah.
The 19-year-old won the World Championships gold medal earlier this
year in Denmark and is eligible for the RM80,000 award for a world title.
I am not talking about the monetary rewards, but the recognition where
Nicol was presented with a Trophy of Appreciation from the Queen, Tuanku
Fauziah Tuanku Abdul Rashid, at the official opening of the inaugural
National Women's Games on Monday at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Nicol will also be honoured by the Olympic Council of Malaysia at their
Olympian Awards tonight.
Should Esther also be accorded similar recognition?
She was one of the torch-bearers at Monday's opening ceremony, and one
wonders what might have been running through her mind when Nicol was
And tonight, Esther could be having those same thoughts again.
It is indeed rare to find Malaysian sportsmen and women attain
world-class status and when they do, because we have been starved of
success, we go overboard at times.
There is nothing wrong with that, but we must look at all achievements
alike and accord the same recognition to them. Otherwise, we can be
accused of being biased in our judgment.
Likewise, four gold medals - two by Ho Ro Bin and one each by Chai Fong
Ying and Pui Fook Chien - were won at the just-concluded World
Championships, and they too deserve the same recognition to make a
level-playing field for all and sundry.
And ironically, wushu, bowling and squash are non-Olympic sports.
While squash and bowling are fighting hard to get into the Olympics,
wushu - being a combat event - will probably have a harder time making a
case for it to be included.

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