On racing…

The past four days (precious weekend included) was spent at the KL Velodrome, as I became part of the Commissaire team managing the National Track Cycling Championships, the first of the series for the year. We spent the whole time racing, figuratively and literally – against riders and the organizers, against the clock and the weather and general stupidity, or rather lack of sporting discipline…

The last four days has been wet, to put it mildly. Actually, a better description of the weather would be – hotter than hell in the morning, followed by downpours in the afternoon that could have floated Noah’s ark had it been in KL. As the KL Velodrome is an open-air track, we were subject to the vagaries of the weather, and the minute it rained, the race would be postponed. Postpone the race we did, repeatedly. To the point it felt like we were waiting for the rain to break long enough for us to race a little bit, and then back to waiting again for Mother Nature to be kind…

When the weather was clear, we raced to finish the multitude of events… With dark clouds rolling and roiling above our heads throughout, it was important to hasten everything. And this was where we encountered another snag – racing against the clock and the weather, and the worst of all, against human ineptitude.

Riders and coaches and managers were never ready on time, we were perpetually waiting to start the race, to finish medal presentations, to finish press conferences… While time kept a-ticking, and the rain kept on coming… And riders kept disappearing, bicycles still being repaired or replaced, and officials never at their intended posts… Typically, we were approximately 20 minutes behind schedule at the start, and by the end of the day, the delay would have extended to perhaps an hour or more behind schedule.

I wonder if these riders and their managers / coaches / mechanics are aware that had they been at a tournament overseas, they would have been disqualified on tardiness. I wonder if they are aware that becoming world-class athletes demands precision and self-control and discipline, and whether they have been taught these values… I wonder if they were taught to respect officials and judges and the audience, and how to behave in the public eye, especially with regard to how to deal with the press corps.

Perhaps its time that our athletes are exposed to more than just the training to make them physically able enough to race or compete, but also to be taught the finer points of being an athlete that represents our country – proper sporting conduct, press relations and what not, ehh?

It’s not just about the racing, boys…. – Jasmine.


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