Saturday, December 14, 2013

Winning ... losing for solidarity

Friday, December 13, 2013 The Malay Mail
NATIONAL Sports Council director-general Datuk Seri Zolkples Embong has expressed dissatisfaction at biased judging in the 27th Sea Games' wushu competition that ended on Tuesday. He claimed that Malaysia were robbed of several gold medals.
Zolkples should not have feigned ignorance because biased judging had been prevalent in previous Sea Games. It usually happens in events where the points for performance are given at the judges’ discretion.
Although there are certain criteria which the judges have to follow in awarding the points, at the end of the day, they are the 'lords' and the results cannot be disputed.
Zolkples said he was puzzled why the judges did not favour Malaysia, although the medals were evenly distributed among the participating countries.
"I am baffled as to how all the countries obtained at least one gold medal. If a certain country deserved to win, it should have been awarded the medal.
The medals should not have been distributed evenly," he was quoted as saying in Naypyitaw.
The national wushu squad ended their challenge with three gold medals, which were won by Diano Bong Siong Lin, Phoon Eyin and Tai Cheau Xuen.
The team achieved the Sports Ministry's target of three gold medals while the association had targeted five. Obviously, when the ministry set the target, it would have taken into account gold medals that would be lost in the name of solidarity.
A total of 23 gold medals were at stake in the wushu competition. But it is the norm to distribute them among the participating countries to ensure these countries support the inclusion of the sport in the next biennial series.
There has been this unwritten ‘understanding’ ever since wushu was included in the Games. Karate, taekwondo and other traditional events have a similar arrangement
I still remember when the Malaysian karate team, who were the favourites to pick up a few gold medals at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, had nothing to show after four days of competition.
When I asked the team official what was happening and if Malaysia would win a gold medal at all, he answered: “It is not our day yet.”
When pressed for an explanation, he said: “I will let you know when we are going to win the gold medal.”
Sure enough, in the last few days of the competition, he said: “We will win the gold medal today and maybe even two.”
Malaysia went on to win two gold medals in the kumite light category through M. Chandran (55kg) and M. Rajoo (70kg).
While I was interviewing the exponents, the said official, grinning from ear to ear, remarked: “I told you we would win gold medals today. Today is our day."
Then he added: "We cannot afford to have one or two nations dominate an event like ours. Then, the others will lose interest in the sport and will not support it for the next Games.
We distribute the medals so that everyone is happy.” So much for fair play in sports!
Biased judging will continue to surface in subjective events unless the Sea Games Federation (SGF) take a firm stand and weed them out. Otherwise, this will be part and parcel of the Games in the name of solidarity.
Maybe, the SGF should consider holding a separate tournament for indoor games and call it the ‘Family Games’.
This way, the medals won by measurable sports on merit — distances and times — will not be diluted by medals raked from subjective sports.

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