Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Road To Glory: Often A Distorted Story

There are a very very few FSM athletes who truly deserve to be at Olympic Games. Aside from consideration of achievements and performances respectable at international level, the most important requirement that spectators, sports enthusiasts, or even athletes themselves often unfairly ignore is the agony, struggle, pain, and sacrifices one has to take in to be considered amongst the world's best. For us in the FSM, one athlete that easily comes to mind in the above mentioned regard is Manuel Minginfil of Yap. There are a couple of others that I will leave to your imagination.

Yes, there is already drawing of Manuel lifting Yap's infamous stone money which has made its way onto stamps for FSM Post. And, numerous newspaper articles have been written mostly about his achievements at big competitions. And, if you've seen pictures of him, he is probably shily smiling with the broadest Yapese humble smile that belies the magnitude of the interior power and strength that have highlighted the label MICRONESIA on every recent maps of the globe.

What shall never be belittled, what FSMers need to appreciate more genuinely, is that many of these athletes actually have to endure so much more -- physically and emotionally, on personal level as well as family level -- in order to even be considered worthy of selection to the Olympic Games. Previous achievements matter -- how fast one could swim in 50 meters, how much one could lift in weightlifting, how strong once can be in Grecko-Roman wrestling, the list goes on -- but these are not the sole basis of the emergence of an olympian athlete as often narrowly implied by sports-loving people in our islands. This is simply not the case for all our FSM athletes who have made headways right into the heart of the Olympic experience. The amount of work load, the need for fidelity to intense training and learning, the lonesome demand to deny other gratifying experience and enjoyments -- in conjuction with the responsibilities inherent in being a son/daughter, a student, a youth leader, an employee, etc. are what constitute the total story of an amazing athlete. It is not the medal garnered at previous games. Not the latest 100 meter sprint time. Not complicated dexterity in style or skills and mastery of rules in any one given sport. As important as these may be, glory for an athletes can not be deduced from statistics. Perhaps for the FSM, greatness for athletes is most important when it is seen in the totality of what it takes to be a "person-athlete" who lives his/her life on the edge, pushing to be better as a Micronesian person and as an athlete from FSM.

So whether you're a naysayer or an all-out fan of FSM athletes at the Olympic Games (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008), I believe we can agree on one consideration: the road to Olympics for FSM can be spelled in 7 letters: A R D U O U S. It has never been a free-ride given discriminately to a certain few whose fateful luck ends in itself -- nothing but luck -- and therefore negates the mainstream notion of Olympic Games to have always been one for the champions and bests of the world.

After all is said and done, when the sun sets on the Olympic Games with assurance that it will rise again in the next four years, the only thing that matters is that some people bust their ends for our country to have a chance of globally merited glory. Indeed, the road to greatness and glory for our athletes begins and ends at home. It is the road leading home. It is a glorious road that is often sadly missed in the narrow-minded analyses solely based on gold, records, or sensational performances. Manuel Minginfel's story depicts OUR collective story of struggle. And although his lifts only ussually takes fraction of a second, his arduous story has taken him a long way from and to Home. Saying that is for me an understatement of the feat he has gone through that his mute medals can never adequately summerize.

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