MALAYSIA: Competing at International Level
Badminton legend and current world number one, Lee Chong Wei
Sports in Malaysia are comprised of both traditional and Western games. Football and badminton are among the most popular sports in the country. Others include golf, bowling, squash, and water sports, such as yachting, kayaking, swimming, water polo and diving. Traditional games include silat, gasing and sepak takraw.
Many Malaysian athletes achieve excellence at international level. For instance, in badminton, the country’s top player Lee Chong Wei is currently ranked world No.1. He was the winner of four gold medals at the last two Commonwealth Games in 2006 and 2010. Unfortunately, he was forced to pull out of this year’s Games due to injury.
Besides badminton, Malaysia also excels in squash, where the country’s top player Nicol Ann David is the reigning world No.1, a title that she has been holding since 2006. At this year’s Commonwealth Games, she successfully defended her singles title, which she won in New Delhi four years ago. Besides that, she also won the British Open in May this year.
It is no doubt that Malaysia has produced many famous athletes and legends, who have excelled in various international games including the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.
MYANMAR: Chinlone, the ballet-dance form of football
Participatory and spectator sports are hugely popular in Myanmar, coming both in the form of imports, primarily football and golf and home grown sports such as Lethwei and Chinlone. Soccer is the favorite spectator sport of Myanmar’s population, attracting large crowds. Lethwei (Burmese kickboxing) tournaments are held at pagoda festivals; it is similar to Muay Thai in Thailand. Although widespread, it doesn’t reach the same level of admiration as the most traditional sport of the country, Chinlone or cane ball, a combination of sport and dance.
Rotating team members showing their individual Chinlone skills in the inner circle
It is considered a non-competitive sport, with no winners or losers. The main aim is to play as skillful and beautiful as possible. Participants, men, women and children alike, of all ages and walks of life, play in teams of six, passing the ball – hollow and made of rattan – back and forth with feet and knees, only. This is accompanied by live music from a traditional ensemble. Rotating, each player enters the inner circle dancing and kicking the ball graciously – there are well over two hundred ways to do so – supported by the team members delivering the ball back with one kick. The play is over once the ball drops to the ground.
Chinlone goes back to the fifth century when it was played for the country’s royal family. Nowadays, the games are held as part of various Buddhist festivals throughout the year.
So, it’s like killing two priceless “tourist birds” with one stone: participating in one of the colourful religious festivals of Mayanmar, while attending a highly entertaining, authentic Chinlone performance. What more can one wish for?
SINGAPORE: Broad based Top Sport at international level
“There can be nothing more entertaining and rejuvenating than sports for all Singaporeans. That’s the reason why in this country a huge variety of sports are played across the board, which is quite a rare thing to be found elsewhere!” a website tells us. It sounds like an advertising slogan, but one has to admit, the Singaporeans love their sports and they are good at it as well!
Their passionate recreational activities can be divided into a number of categories like popular sports, adventure sports, indoor sports, outdoor sports and water sports. The most popular sports encompass football, basketball, cricket, and badminton, rugby, cycling and swimming, though the top five sports also include bodybuilding, sailing and cable skiing. You really must be top-fit as a Singaporean!
Being a small, but the most economically developed country of ASEAN, it is no wonder professional sport performance is of high international standard, just like its neighbor Malaysia. The country bagged many a medal in both, Olympics and/or Commonwealth, Asian and SEA Games, amongst others for badminton, basketball, swimming and table tennis.
The latter might be a bit unknown, but Singapore’s table tennis topper Feng Tianwei, currently the World Number 4, won two bronze medals at the last London Olympics, while more importantly she won the singles title at the Commonwealth Games four years ago. She’s defending that title and leading the women’s team at this year’s Commonwealth Games at Glasgow. Singapore collected six gold and five silvers from a total of 24 medals on offer during the last Games, thus are a force to be reckoned with.
As an Indian contender, feeling the heat of Singapore’s competition observed “Singapore are the best in the business in the Commonwealth Games and they are quite strong players but nevertheless I would be able to give them a run for their money”.
Alas for our Indian friend, Singapore won the women’s team table tennis gold in Glasgow! But running they did, indeed!
Singapore’s women’s team winning the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, 2014 at Glasgow