THE 30th Olympic Games has come to an end in London. The opening and closing ceremonies were spectacular. More than 10,000 athletes from 204 nations competed in 300 events in 26 sports, showcasing the high standard of human talent and skills.
Each event is fascinating in its own right. However, the 100m dash seemed to draw the most interest. That Usain Bolt could run 100m in 9.63 seconds makes us wonder how that is even humanly possible. He could even do five push-ups after the run, whereas we would have been breathless and gasping for air. Is it in the genes, mind, environment or something else?
Likewise, the middle-distance African runners left us equally in awe. Physically, some are thin and slender and while running, they did not look as if they were gasping at all. What makes them so strong? They looked desperate only when dashing towards the finishing tape.
The marathon is a gruelling event. It requires another array of qualities: strength, perseverance and endurance.
As we watched the gold medallist Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia win the women's marathon, we gasped in admiration, looking at her gritting her teeth.
We were the ones left breathless, thinking about how a woman could run 42km in three hours when most of us would be panting, climbing five flights of stairs.
The Olympics also displayed a contrast in performances. As much as strength and endurance is required in the running, jumping, and swimming events, rhythmic gymnastics required grace and precision. Athletic qualities are judged by the ease of movement with the apparatus, a blend of fashion, artistry and strength.
Their moves are timed with the music, which can be anything from a classical strum of the violin to a James Bond tune. While the runners, swimmers and jumpers can express their feelings by screaming and fist-punching, rhythmic gymnasts have to keep their emotions under wraps.
It was not only the athletes, but the London spectators who were a sport. As the world can bear witness, stadiums were filled to the brim. The crowd cheered and applauded, showing merriment for medallists and encouragement to all competitors.
For example, although Ireland's Caitriona Jennings came in last in the marathon, she received cheers just as loud as the gold medallist.
In short, the Olympics was a display of discipline. The competitors and coaches spend years training to achieve a high-level of self-control, making great sacrifices. How good it would be if this was practised in other areas in life such as education, science and innovation, politics, business and international relations. The world would be a more peaceful place for mankind for sure.
Megawati Omar, Shah Alam, Selangor Source: New Straits Times Letters to the Editors 24 August 2012