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The Thai team celebrate their victory over South Korea in the 1998 Asian Games

 

 

 

Former Bangkok Post columnist Bernard Trink - (www.nationalradioWORLD.com/James Loving photo)

 

 

 

SPORTS NOTES - ASIAN GAMES REFLECTIVE

James Loving/National Radio Text Service

 

 

Over a ten year period of traveling throughout Southeast Asia I never heard of the Asian Games. When I visited Thailand, during that time, I would contact Bangkok columnist Bernard Trink and share my traveling experiences with him. In return he would give me some pointers and asked why don't I cover the games which led me to some of the MOST memorable life experiences by reporting on the ASIAN GAMES

 

Monday, August 27, 2018

BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER

One of the greatest lessons I have learned about Asia is how the Asian Games brings people together for the greater good. The 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, Thailand was not only a turning point for me by being one of the greatest experiences of my life, it was the beginning of my Asian Equation.

Over a ten year period of traveling throughout Southeast Asia I never heard of the games. During that time when I visited Thailand I would contact Bangkok columnist Bernard Trink and share my traveling experiences with him. In return he would give me some pointers.

Trink was aware of my background covering sports and in 1998 he asked why didn't I cover the Asian Games. The what (?) was my reply.

I followed his advice and the games became one of the most overwhelming experiences of my life.

There are several insights that stand out from those games. The first was the enthusiasm Asian fans have about soccer/International football. Soccer was not a strong point in my journalism experience. Having covered Major League Soccer in America I was used to seeing what then appeared to be small crowds of 15 to 30 thousand fans in the cavernous 100 thousand seat Rose Bowl resulting in a boring, empty, unexciting feeling.

Asian Game crowds of 50 to a capacity 60 thousand in Bangkok's Rajamangala stadium was exciting and stimulating and in some respects awe-inspiring highlighting fans from their respective countries. This type of crowds, in that environment, was the background for one of the top three sporting events I have ever seen.

The most awesome competition was the Thailand football team's 2-1 extra-time victory over South Korea with only 10 men. The Korean's had played in the world Cup that year and had a thriving reputation. When Thailand scored the winning GOLDEN goal the crowd went wild and it seemed as if the world stood still. I felt my heart stop and the environment was so surreal it was as if the sky opened up to a streaming golden light through a beautiful blue sky through glistening silver like clouds and as if angels were singing. My ears went numb and there was, for a brief moment… silence.

The others include being the last person out of the basketball arena and all of the press transportation had left to return to the press room.

The Philippine team bus was just about to pull away when they spotted me standing the all by myself (as the song goes) looking bewildered. They motioned for me to me to come and board the bus and they gave me a lift back to the press headquarters.

When I arrived at a volleyball game all of the seats in the arena were taken. I was standing behind the Pakistani teams sectioned of private area. One of the players turned around and motioned for me to came and sit with the team.

What stands out about these three incidents is the thoughtfulness and kindness of the teams who took the time to be considerate of someone in a jam and they helped out. These are examples of sports BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER.

The following are three stories from that 1998 Asian Games experience.

1
ASIAN GAMES "Against All ODDS"
Thailand overcomes its financial crisis hardship. Against all odds the Thais go down to the wire with last minute preparations to present the 13th edition of the ASIAN GAMES
2
Feature - Asian Soccer Fit To Be Thai'd - December 1998
Going up against a full strength Korean team it seemed the best the Thai's could do was to hold on in hopes for a shoot out. Thai coach Peter Withe had other ideas he wanted his team to be aggressive and keep on kicking for a winning goal.
3
ASIAN GOLD
CHINA wins its fifth consecutive Asian Games. The Chinese won overwhelmingly taking 129 gold medals and 274 medals total. Korea finished second, Japan third, host country Thailand fourth and Chinese Taipei fifth.

 


 

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To be continued…


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