Friday, December 4, 2009
Missing the Sea Games after 13 editions
I had signed off covering the Sea Games at the Manila Games in 2005 after 12 editions, but was lucky to extend my stint to 13 editions in Korat, Thailand, two years ago, when I was attached with the National Sports Institute (NSI).
The Laos Games, officially starting on Wednesday, will be the first Games I will be missing, since I made my debut covering the Sea Games in Singapore in 1983, as rookie with The Malay Mail together with my former colleague, Leon Lim.
I still remember clearly how excitedly and at the same time nervously, we drove in my Madza 808 to Singapore using the trunk road (there was no highway then).
I do not know if Joe Marcose (formerly Utusan and now blogging as Fair Play) remembers, that I and Leon, picked him up at his hometown in Batu Pahat or was it Muar, enroute to Singapore - and we had a surprise fourth passenger in the car (courtesy of Leon!). We stayed at the Sea View Hotel in Tanjung Katong where we never failed to checkout the resident band - Experiments!
In Singapore, we had for company from New Straits Times, the late Mansoor Rahman, Dan Guen Chin and Gerald Martinez to keep us on our toes. And our cameramen were Khalid Redza and CH Loh.
It looks like it was only yesterday- but a reality check says that it was 26 years ago!
Of the 13 editions I covered, two were held in Kuala Lumpur in 1989 and 2001. The eleven other editions I covered were in Singapore (twice), Indonesia (twice), the Philippines (twice), Thailand (twice) Brunei and Vietnam.
I have covered the Games with different colleagues from The Malay Mail which include Johnny Yew, Joe Carlos, Johnson Fernandez, Reon Renu, Chan Wai Kong, Tony Yee, Rizal Hashim, Fariq Rahman, Ghaz Ramli and Mustapha Kamaruddin.
Each Games hold special and fond memories for me, but in 2005 in Manila, something told me that it was going to be my last Sea Games I was covering. Call it intuition, or just that my legs were giving up on me. (read here).
And little I realise that I will also be leaving The Malay Mail the very next year - four months after the Manila Sea Games. I never ever thought I will leave The Malay Mail until I retired.
I had one more bonus Sea Games in Korat in a different capacity with ISN and for once I was watching the Games from the other side of the fence.
This year as the Games moves to a debut venue, and I will not be there to witness it.
As much as I had said that I was tired of the Games, I am still going to miss it because it has become very much part of my life - for the last 22 years!
For the first time, I will be following the Games through the newspapers, internet, radio and television. It is definitely going to be a whole new experience.
The Sea Games may only be a regional event, but for any sports journalist in this region, it is a challenging event to cover. There have been as many as 40 sports competed in some Games and in various parts of the country. And with two reporters to cover it, it is indeed is a challenge.
Any rookie reporter who wants to make his grade, should be thrown into the Sea Games - just like Leon and me were thrown in by then editor Tony Francis.
My 12 editions is really nothing compared to a truly veteran journalist and former sports editor of Bangkok Post, Edward Thangarajah - who is still covering the event as a specialist writer after his retirement.
Another veteran is Supardi from Indonesia and a few more from the Philippines and Thailand.
I will surely miss these guys whom I have been meeting every two years for the last 22 years without fail.
Then there are officials and coaches from the various countries who are not only regular faces in the Games, but friends, just like the athletes. I have seen athletes who competed in the Games return as coaches or managers over the years.
Above all, I will surely miss soaking in the thick of action of the Sea Games.
Laos is indeed going to be a challenging ground for sports journalists this time around, since they are debut host.
But let me assure the many young reporters who will be covering the Games for the Malaysian newspapers, you will enjoy it at the end.
Just try not to complain too much, but take the challenges with a pinch of salt and as part and parcel of true journalism.
While you have to work hard at the Games, there will definitely be time to have fun and return with many memorable and unfortunate moments!
Everyone will definitely return with at least a tale to tell in the years to come.
Enjoy and soak in the Games!