Since I’m due in the UK, I thought I’d touch on a character that had been an interesting part of my childhood. He was, what they’d call a reflection of the quirky part of British culture, a celebrated loser. I am, of course talking about Mr. Michael Edwards better known as “Eddie the Eagle,” a ski jumper who came last in his events in Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988, yet despite coming dead last, Eddie became the star of the show. Whenever he showed up, everyone cheered. He was, for a brief moment, a celebrity. His story can be found at: [Link]

]At that time, I didn’t quite get it. Why was this guy, who came from nowhere so popular? He didn’t win. In fact, he came dead last in the things that he entered. So, I didn’t understand why a guy who came in last would achieve far more “love” than the people trained all their lives for a contest and actually came home with medals. At that time, I believed that “winning” was the only thing that people should have focused on. As much as I never understood why Eddie the Eagle was so popular, I also never understood why everyone got angry with Sampras and loved Agassi – Sampras won most of the matches.

Then, I came back for National Service. I was grossly overweight thanks to the fact that I managed to avoid going for the weekly “Games” sessions and spent the time hiding in the dorm munching Hagan Daz cookie dough flavoured ice cream. My first ever “5BX” session nearly killed me. So, I had to find a way of making it out of the physical training phrase in some sort of shape and so, I just gave what I could during PT. This involved collapsing a few times and wanting to puke up after basic running but I pushed through it.

I’m told that a lot of my peers liked the fact that although I was physically weak, I still persevered. So, whenever the Physical Training Instructor (PTI) singled me out and punished the group (which I think only happened once), nobody held it against me.

I kind of lost that for a while. I allowed myself to become a fat slob. What money I made, ended up being spent on good food and booze. My idea of exercise was, well something a good family man shouldn’t admit to.

That was until I married Huong and ended up with Kiddo. Then, sometime during Covid, I ended up having to take a blood test and they found my blood glucose was high. The message was simple – daily exercise was no longer non-negotiable. So, as a result, I make it a point to walk at least 10,000 steps a day and I do something more intense at least three times a week.

Anyway, it turned out that Pure Fitness held a challenge and for some reason I decided to give it a try. Booked a slot and went over to try it out in the afternoon. Somehow, the activities looked easier on the signs. For example, I only seemed to read that one of the stations was 10 meters worth of burpee broad jumps. Turned out it was actually 10 x 10metres worth of burpee broad jumps. Then noticed a few shredded guys drenched. I then realized that my obese middle-aged body may not have been up for the job.

Still, I went through at and although I was officially dead last, I actually ended up getting one of the other contestants and the emcee encouraging me over the finishing line. It was a reminder of my army days of being encouraged by people.

Suddenly, it dawned upon me. Yes, like Eddie the Eagle all those years ago, I came in last. However, I was an untrained old fart doing things that not many people expected me to do and the key was not about winning the prize but finishing the race. Eddie the Eagle was loved because he dared to do what nobody expected him to do. He was in contest that wasn’t for him. Yet, instead of quitting, he went right ahead and did it. He finished what he started.

In a way, life is like that. Most of us can’t be “prize winners.” However, we got to finish the race and sometimes, when you look at the fact that the rules are often changed to screw us up, finishing and taking part becomes the achievement in itself.


Tang Li

*Although I’ve been based mainly in Singapore for nearly two decades, I’ve had the privilege of being able meet people who have crossed borders and cultures. I’ve befriended ministers and ambassadors and worked on projects involving a former head of state. Yet, at the same time, I’ve had the privilege of befriending migrant labourers and former convicts. All of them have a story to tell. All of them add to the fabric of life. I hope to express the stories that inspire us to create life as it should be.



2 Responses to “Limping”

  • Singaporean R Free Rider:

    Eddie the Eagle was loved because he dared to do what nobody expected him to do. He was in contest that wasn’t for him. Yet, instead of quitting, he went right ahead and did it. He finished what he started.
    Yes, this is correct. If you want things to happen you must take action, even it is a small baby step.

    Just like our great PAP NEA who started the NEA Community Auditor Programme which volunteer help NEA to keep Singapore clean and green.

    Residents in private estates help NEA keep tabs on neighbourhood cleanliness

    Calling Singaporeans to join NEA Community Auditor Programme to report foreigners and Singaporeans who littered, burn and left food on the ground to feed rats.

    We should also have a Talent Auditor Programme to report Foreigner and Singaporeans who are mediocre.(proactively bochap)

    GD Star Rating
  • Serfs Will Be Serfs:

    To those who are very used to bribing just the top few, getting their way to control the rest of the flock cheaply, you will never understand.

    GD Star Rating

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