Badminton is a favorite sport in my family. Growing up, we watched as many of the Thomas Cup and All England matches as were broadcasted on TV. We watched amazing feats by the international greats such as Rudy Hartono, Han Jian, Svend Pri, and Lim Swie King as well as Malaysia's own Punch Gunalan, Sidek Brothers, Ong Beng Teong, Cheach Soon Kit. Just typing these names bring back so many fond memories.
The current Malaysian top player, Lee Chong Wei, was in the finals of the 2012 London Olympic games. He lost, but not before winning the first of three matches and going all the way to tie at 19-19 in the third. Lin Dan from China took the gold.
Not having caught the game on TV (somebody please tell me the best place to watch the match?) I read some articles on it. I found out that a rich businessman in Malaysia offered to gift any Malaysian badminton players with a gold bar if they won the gold. Malaysia is a small country and while she has seen some sports glory on other international stages, the Olympic gold medal is one that has eluded her.
The offer got me thinking. I can't believe that Lee Chong Wei, a person at the top of his game, who has known what it takes to remain a champion, and who has lost to Lin Dan more than he has won in recent years, needed an extra motivation to do better in an Olympics finals!!!!! That he would say to himself, "well now that there is an additional $600,000 involved, I'd better train harder,' is inconceivable.
I have to say though, if someone offers me a gold bar for winning the TKD Top Ten or to get a book contract, I may shift my priorities. The thing about wanting a balanced life and learning different crafts is that there is always tension. Should I be playing Clue with my children? Should I work on my TKD form/core strength/balance/flexibility? Should I write? Pursuing excellence in one area often means putting aside another area, at least for the time being. There is always a cost.
But I have to say, if someone were to offer me a gold bar for winning the world championship and getting a book published, I don't think I'd be doing anything much differently. That's a good sign, isn't it?