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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Underdogs rule!

There is a popular quote from the Rocky Balboa 2006 movie. Rocky was speaking to his son:

"Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done. Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that!"

There are advantages to being an underdog. Underdogs usually fight with all their heart and soul. They put in a lot of hard work and passion in what they set out to accomplish. They do not think too much about the trophy, prize money or medal. All they want to do is to prove their own worth. As they fight on and start winning points, their belief in themselves grow stronger. It is very exciting to watch the underdogs fight and eventually triumph. Their heroic victories inspire us to do the same with our own battles.

"Who am I kiddin'? I ain't even in the guy's league...It don't matter, 'cause I was nobody before...I was nobody. That don't matter either, ya know...It really don't matter if I lose this fight. It really don't matter if this guy opens my head, either. 'Cause all I wanna do is go the distance. Nobody's ever gone the distance with Creed. And if I can go that distance, ya see, and that bell rings, ya know, and I'm still standin', I'm gonna know for the first time in my life, ya see, that I weren't just another bum from the neighborhood." - Rocky (1976)

Malaysia has always been considered the underdogs when it played against other badminton powerhouses like Indonesia and China back in the 90s. When they finally won the Thomas Cup in 1992 after 25 years, the whole nation celebrated the historic win by declaring the next day a public holiday. Although everyone played their best, maybe the super-underdog that day was Foo Kok Keong. Nobody thought he could beat Olympic champ Allan Budi Kusuma. He had never before until that night.

".....But the old warhorse didn’t read that script. He ran, jumped, dived, rolled and almost threw up on ran his way to a shocking straight set victory."
- from the Like That Also Can Ah? blog.

(Wow, 5xmom even watches badminton - see her comment.)

Will Malaysia be able to repeat the feat again this year in Indonesia? I think it needs to rely on its doubles players to win 2 points since it has only one reliable singles player in Lee Chong Wei. Again, if he crumbles mentally like he did in important tournaments such as the 2007 World Championship where he lost tamely to Sony on homeground, that will probably spell doom for Malaysia's quest for the prestigious cup. It was heartbreaking to watch him lose at Bukit Jalil sports complex last year. But you know what, it was Wong Mew Choo who brought cheers back to everyone with her underdog win over Xie Xingfang. So, being an underdog, there is less pressure on you to win and as a result, you can just focus on the task at hand.

"No, maybe I can't win, maybe the only thing I can do is just take everything he's got. But to beat me, he's gonna have to kill me, and to kill me, he's gonna have to have the heart to stand in front of me, and to do that, he's gotta be willing to die himself and I don't know if he's ready to do that. I don't know, I don't know." - Rocky IV (1985)

When I was young, I had a paper folder with an inspiring message on it. Again, google help me recover this long-lost poem:

The Man Who Thinks He Can
Walter D. Wintle

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't;
If you'd like to win, but think you can't,
It's almost a cinch you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you're lost,
For out in the word we find
Success begins with a fellow's will,
It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you're outcasted, you are;
You've got to think high to rise.
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.