Sunday, August 24, 2008

Will You Eat That Humble Pie?

Usain Bolt is undoubtedly a golden man in the record-breaking fast lane. He bagged 3 gold medals in the 2008 Olympics in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m runs - quite a jaw-dropping feat.

But there is just one problem, so some thought.

The Jamaican star athlete is not the usual runner who completes his run with his chest pushing against the finishing line and both hands waving in air. Bolt's unconventional, animated and flirtatious interaction with the crowd was received with mixed reactions. When a man draws such mixed and extreme reactions, he must be somebody. That is how I see it.

Many think that he has been too disrespectful with his extravagant gestures which some considered as immature. The president of the IOC showed his disapproval when he commented that it was 'not the way we perceive being a champion'.

The others disagree. They feel that such occasions merit extraordinary celebrations. Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Community Development, Youth and Sports) Teo Ser Luck, seems to be on Bolt's side (though closer to the fence). He noted that 'the excitement must be overwhelming' and he thought: 'He didn't do anything detrimental to others. He didn't belittle the other runners. He certainly can be forgiven.'

It seems that Bolt is not the least bothered when he said, 'The medals will change my life. But I won't change.' He claimed that other athletes are "OK with it" and that he was merely enjoying himself.

Here you go. Bolt's gestures can be interpreted in more than one ways. Miscommunication does not necessarily come from the domain of spoken language. In fact, it is even more likely to take place when "spoken" through body language. After all, more than half of our communication comes from body language.

OK, back to Bolt. Just how should a winner behave? Flashy is bad? Humble is good? Are we going into a value system debate already?

One of the Chinese deep-set values is to always stay humble and modest. If that is the case, the Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony certainly spoke otherwise. The loud and unrestrained display of power was awakening and there was no sign of being humble.

In the older education system, students were encouraged to remain passive while diligently absorbing imparted knowledge. Discussion was acceptable but argumentative debates were frowned upon. I grew up hearing teachers giving negative comments such as "She talks too much!" and I was almost convinced that talking was bad.

Today, we nudge our kids out of their seats and motivate them to expressively speak their minds. Exchanges of views are given thumbs-up while demure and prim conducts do not necessarily earn merit points in report cards.

I say, 'times have changed' and I wonder 'has the deep-set value system changed too?'

"Plenty of people want to be pious, but no one yearns to be humble" - François de la Rochefoucauld


Other Olympics Stories:

From The Ancient Greece To The Middle Kingdom


The Gold Rush and The Medal Drought

The Human Sailfish

The Human Race To Infinity

We Have A Date in 2012

The Real Fighters In Sports

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