Malaysia had three shots at landing its first ever Olympic gold, but failed to nail any. For three consecutive nights the nation turned their hopeful eyes to the badminton arena at the Rio Olympics, only to be disappointed.
It was painful to see the gold medals slip through our hands when we had more than an outside chance to win at least one of them. In fact, we were odds-on favourites in the men’s doubles and men’s singles.
Our mixed doubles pair of Goh Liu Ying and Chan Peng Soon surpassed all expectations by reaching the final. Their defeat to Indonesia’s Tontowi Ahmad and Lilyana Natsir didn’t come as too big a surprise.
The same can’t be said about Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong, who squandered two match points to hand the gold to the Chinese pair of Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan.
Likewise, the form book was thrown out of the window when world No. 1 Datuk Lee Chong Wei went down in two games to No. 2 Chen Long of China.
You can’t blame sportsmen for losing as many factors come into play in competition, but no sportsman is above criticism and negative reviews. That is if the adverse reports in the media about them are warranted, in good nature and done with the right intention.
A tabloid drew flak over its headline on Malaysia’s defeat in the mixed doubles final. Netizens took to the social media to condemn the newspaper for the headline which they deem as distasteful. It belittled the achievement of the pair, they said.
Then there was the objectionable Facebook posting by former DAP politician Hew Kuan Yau or Supeman Hew. He wrote: “Listen carefully Umno, if the Chinese really ‘balik’ China then Malaysia will ‘eat banana’ (go back empty handed) in the Olympics.”
The sad part of these episodes was that there were unnecessary racial slant and narrow view of a Malaysian achievement. Yet, we were not really shocked by such happenings.
In fact, they merely proved that ours is a fractious society. A wedge had been driven between us for political expediency. Never had been racism been so boldly expressed in this country, especially on the social media.
Political leaders had openly asked their fellow citizens to get back on the boat if they were unhappy. Similar remarks and racist name-callings by netizens had become commonplace.
It was a gold medal that we needed badly, not only because we wanted to score an Olympic first and break the duck when we had the best opportunities to.
The country needs a feel-good moment. We need a quick fix to glue a society that is drifting apart and make it cohesive again. We know very well we can’t look to any of our political leaders to help bridge the growing divide between us.
We saw a glimmer of hope when CIMB chairperson Datuk Seri Nazir Abdul Razak and AirAsia group chief Tan Sri Tony Fernandes threw their support behind actor and filmmaker Afdlin Shauki’s boycott of the Festival Filem Malaysia 2016.
An Olympic gold would have helped to bring the people together again. It was a much-needed gold, but we let it slipped through our hands. Even the badminton gawds are frowning on us.