“On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit, and you think, ‘Okay, this is the limit.’ And so you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high.”- Ayrton Senna, Formula One World Drivers’ Champion in 1988, 1990, and 1991.
As the Selangor novice swimming championships in Shah Alam fast approaches (starts tomorrow October 15th, actually); there will be a build-up of excitement varying in degree from being nervous as a swimmer competing for the first time, or second time…maybe it is his (her) 5th or 6th competition. The other end of the degree of excitement is the swimmer that cannot wait to race even though it is his first time doing so.
While the athletes, their parents and coaches often take center stage in any sport and competition, a major component of any competition are the technical officials. These are the people that run the competition. In recent times, you would probably have heard of technical officials involved and mired in controversy with how they carry out their duties. That sport is Formula 1. Not in swimming or if a situation ever does arise; it is very rare.
I can give my views more on swimming due to my personal experiences. The technical officials involved on deck (at the swimming pool area) are the referees, race starters, judges and officials on both end of each of the 10 lanes of the swimming pool. Then, there are the marshals who register the swimmers before each race and get them ready in their respective lane positions before moving them to their lanes to ready for the race.
An integral part of the officials team are the officials in charge of hospitality. These are some ladies who ensure that food and drinks are ready lunch, morning and afternoon breaks. Experience from the Selangor run competitions is that they usually don’t stop for lunch breaks, more so when there are many heats in each event. The organizers know the athletes, their parents and coachers are usually at the pool as early as 6.30am and try to end the competition each day, as early as possible. The day can end at 7.00pm or 8.00pm if there are many heats in each event and if there are several major rest breaks.
There are also the announcers and IT people (ensuring the results are up on the notice board almost as soon as the race is over).
Being a technical official most definitely has its perks, the best of which is first hand experience and involvement in the championship itself. No duty is too small that it lacks merit. Every technical official has to play his or her role in order for the meet competition to be a success. Parents are encouraged to volunteer themselves for duty as technical officials. You can take up a Grade III Technical Officials’ course (as I did), if you intend to serve as an official, long term.
The swimmers – ultimately they are the stars of the “show”. Some start as early as 5 years old and work their way up. In their innocence, they are entertainers out of the water, as well. Some years ago; I had a young English girl who was probably around 7 or 8 years old, come up to me and started chatting. I was a marshal at that championship. She talked about her elder brother and pointed out where her mum was in the spectators’ stand. It was her way of overcoming her nervousness as it was her first race in her first championship that she was taking part in.
I had young children come up to me (and they still do), asking me to help show them which event, heat and lane there are racing in, or if they had missed it. Many come up to me after their race asking how they did. To me, they are all winners.
The highlight for these young athletes is before and after their races, in the secondary pool; where they get to play with their friends. Their laughter and smiles on their faces – epic!
A head full of dreams leaves no space for fears. (Atkinson)
A swimming race championship is coming up again at PADE, Shah Alam, this weekend. This time round, it is for the novice racers. While many people may see this as a “play-play” (a Malaysian version of “not serious”) competition; I assure you, it is far from that. The swimmers taking part – Yes, they are athletes.
“The seed that has been nurtured under the soil for weeks or months, began to break the surface of the soil and sprout shoots and leaves”. It is at a meet like this where children who have been going through the various stages in learning to swim, compete while having fun at the same time. It is also a time where state, national and possibly world champion athlete potentials are born.
Now, not too long ago, I knew of this 6 year old girl who started going for swimming lessons once a week. She absolutely hated water touching her face. She cried whenever she had to go for swimming lessons all the time. In fact, she wanted to stop lessons.
Her father made a deal with her: “You continue to go for swimming lessons. The moment you can swim better than me; you can stop going for lessons”. And the little girl agreed.
From going for lessons once a week; she got a lot better at swimming and was going for lessons 3 – 5 times a week not too long after the pact she made with her father. She could swim a lot better than him by then. In fact, she could swim all the four strokes of swimming, well. And she had no intentions to quit swimming.
At age 9, she said, “I want to become World Champion”. Her father said to her that she could become World Champion if she followed her heart and put in the effort.
As time, went on, she became a state swimmer, representing Selangor; and was amongst the top breaststroke racers for her age group in the country and region. When she was 18 years old, she left for the U.S. to further her tertiary education. There, she represented her university on their swim team; bringing many wins and successes for the team.
Now, she may not have become World Champion officially, but it helped her get to where she is.
But she has become “World Champion” to all those young children starting out in life, not being able to fully comprehend that they, too; can become what their hearts desire, if they follow it. An example of this that comes to mind was when she competed in an International Open meet in Kuching, Sarawak -Malaysia; in 2016. When she raced her races, there were a few young 8 or 9 year old “little league” swimmers who cheered her on top of their high pitch voices. She had become their idol.
It was not easy. as huge sacrifices were made along the way. The sport was top priority.
She never boasted about her successes and never let it get to her head. She uses her experience to help others, in any way; even if it was the littlest of ways. If there were adversities, she would find proper solutions to them.
That makes her World Champion.
To all swimmers at the Selangor meet this weekend: Wishing you a great future in this sport. Have fun!
Dedicated to the ones that make this happen:
Parents and siblings of the athlete of all sports. They are the ones who have to almost equally be with the athlete; make sacrifices with their time by sending and picking the child (children) up from training, making it a point that the athlete attends all practice, buy and invest in all apparel and necessary things for the sport.
Laura Kristen Atkinson
Coaches Soon, Wendy, Ben Lee of the Subang Jaya Community Centre Club – where it all began in 2007.
Coach Mark Chua, Coach Marilyn Chua, Coach Ong Jin Kooi, Coach Dr Molly Duesterhaus (Millikin University), Coach Mokhtar.
Alan Ian Atkinson, Writer, Author, Storyteller
At the age of 42, George Sand, the famous 19th century French novelist, was a broken and depressed human being. (She had adopted the male pseudonym to cover the fact that her novels were written by a woman.) Her personal life at this time had fallen apart and she was the victim of severe personal criticism from powerful and influential people of France.
One day, feeling low and melancholy, she wandered into the woods near her home where she had played as a child. Seated there on a boulder she thought over the past, and tried to analyze her personal situation. After some time she reached a conclusion that was to go on and write another 50 plays and novels. The decision was this:
“Henceforth I shall accept what I am and what I am not. With my limitations and my gifts, I shall go on using life as long as I am in this world and afterwards. Not to use life – that alone is death.”
There are times we lose sight or even get distracted along the way to the destination, i.e. our goals; our ambitions; we set out to reach. It seems like forever before we reach these goals or ambition.
There are people who have arrived at their destination, missing the deadline they set. Some people may have arrived at their destination only to find out that it was not what they envisaged it to be.
Many become disillusioned or even get depressed like George Sand. “Now what? Where do I go from here?”, they ask themselves.
If or whenever we feel that whatever we do seems to be heading in “no direction” or we begin to question the meaning in our life; it is good to put a “pause” in all we do, take a step back, reflect.
Not reaching a personal goal by a deadline does not mean you have failed. It may mean you did not set the right date. We may not be experienced enough to match the speed of getting or achieving our goals to the date we expect to complete them. It is ok. If you feel very strongly about what you set out to do and did all you could, more than your best; than you have succeeded. Then, start again, aim high, set a new date to achieve your new goal.
Your goals must be clearer than your soup. Dr. Andrew Goh, an excellent motivational speaker from Singapore; always stressed this point whenever he gave motivational talks. addressing insurance agents and other businessmen.
Do not set too easy a target deadline. A person’s fiercest competitor is himself or herself. Not anything else or anyone else. So, when you set a target, it should be higher than the one you last achieved. Only you, yourself; will know that target.
“Do my best” is for whiners – an excuse in disguise for not putting everything you’ve got into achieving your goals. You have to do more than just your best. You have to give it “your all”.
Then, armed with hope, a new zest for life, an inspiration, a whole lot of giving and bunches of smiles; you are ready. Press the “play” button in your life and share in abundance the talents you have.
Broth and Bouillon
Broth, or bouillon, is a common clear soup. Broths come in a variety of flavours, including chicken, turkey, beef, vegetable and mushroom. Bouillon can also come in a powdered form, and stock cubes are a famous example of a powdered broth or bouillon base.9 Mar 2022
It’s 11.00am on a bright, sunny Sunday morning. This was the Sunday that I was going to give Tom Cruise a run for his money – him and his P-51 Mustang against the hotter than “wild fire red” Mustang 5.0 GT I was in.
The Mustang was waiting to be let loose from it’s domicile home in PJ. Its owner and I were going to view some land off Karak (1) town; which was over an hour away. D.D. said I was driving.
This was not just any old wannabe sports car. It is big. At 188.5 inches in length, 81.9 inches wide (including mirrors) and standing at 54.3 inches high; this machine’s 5.0L (302 cu.in.) pumps out 450 horses, that pushes the pointer to 160mph. 0-60mph in 4.3sec.
This machine Screamed, “Look at me at every angle. I’m sexy! You will not be disappointed”. It was already fast, just being stationary. It was in my favourite colour – race red.
The car with it’s wide door opened, makes it easy to get in and out of it. This is quite unlike some of its European competitors, which requires some amount of learning to get in and out of them.
The steering wheel on this car was carbon-fibre equipped. The seats were leather standard, with electronic adjustment. All accept the backrest. A chrome lever at the side of the seat at its axis, needs to be pulled to adjust it leaning forward or laying back. It does make sense that this is manually adjustable. Think about it. Eeeeeennnnhhhh(sound)…the backrest is adjusted electronically. Or, brrrttt(sound)…the backrest is adjusted near instantly.
There is a row of buttons on the centre dash, with believe it or not, red square caps covering them – fighter jet style. This is just below the screen with the Ford logo displayed when the system is not in use.
Flick open the red cover on the right, press the engine start/stop button; and all silence from miles around, is broken. The roar of the engine is so loud that it make the sound of thunder sound meek. I simply loved it! What Ford has done with the Mustang 5.0 GT is made the v-8 cylinder engine sound almost exactly to that of the P-51 Mustang’s 12 cylinder engine. Turn up the volume whole watching the videos of Listen to the sound (1) & (2).
Driving this badass machine is exhilarating! This is definitely not the feather-lights of European cars. The steering is heavy though it is power-assisted; which is good because you have full control of the car on the road. Though the engine sound is loud in the cabin, we could still hold conversations without having to raise our voices.
The engine sound was sweet, pure growl. You betcha that everyone on the highway / freeway (American) was looking at us. We could be seen from miles around and before long, we were filling up the wing rear-view mirrors and the centre one of vehicles ahead of us as, as we approached them faster than a blink of an eye. At almost 7ft wide from the tip of one wing mirror to the other; the vehicles in front of us will not be able to see anything else but this menacing red fury on the road. That’s putting it mildly.
On our way back from Karak, I put this mean machine through its paces. Thump the gas pedal and the 450 horses pulls this red carriage at 10Gs, similar to that of TopGun Maverick’s 10Gs test flight😉. It stayed glued to the road. Immense!
The growl of its engine was excitement hardly containable. If you think the roar of this supercar’s engine is fierce when the car is stationary; the growl as it eats up miles of road when picking up speed is definitely an OMG!!!😲😲😲
I’ve driven the BMW M3 through its paces. Its an amazing car, on top of the charts when compared to other European cars in its league and higher. While the M3 has a bit of head knowledge and driving excitement, the Mustang just blows it away – from head knowledge to sight to deafening sound to sheer go from 0 to its top of 160mph to driving in town to attraction to deafening sound (did I mention deafening sound?) in almost every category. I’ve included a video “F80 BMW M3 vs Ford Mustang 5.0 I ROLL RACE” for you to get an idea of my experience with both these cars.
Many good things has to come to an end. I had to reluctantly detach myself from this Mustang to head for home. A massive “Thank You” to D.D. for letting me get into the cockpit and drive this Mustang off its wheels.
A little background on Mustang horses:
The mustang is a free-roaming horse of the Western United States, descended from horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish. Mustangs are often referred to as wild horses.
Etymology and usage
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the English word mustang was likely borrowed from two essentially synonymous Spanish words, mestengo (or mesteño) and mostrenco. English lexicographer John Minsheu glossed both words together as ‘strayer’ in his dictionary of 1599. Both words referred to livestock defined as ‘wild, having no master’.
RCIA does have its perks, so it looks. In late 1993, this young lady, attending one of the two RCIA groups; caught my eye. I was one of the facilitators for the group.
Visited Jeannie in her hometown in Kampar, Perak during Chinese New Year in February, 1994. Spent the whole day with her. She took me sightseeing to all the local spots, including the railway station.
The Mandarin ducks.
One of the countries Jeannie and I visited on our first trip to Europe, was The Netherlands. This was part of a European tour we caught from London, England. So, on this trip in The Netherlands, we toured Amsterdam and stayed for the night. Our hotel was by one of the many canals Amsterdam is famous for. Our room was on the ground floor, with a large sliding door leading out to a sort of garden and beyond that was the canal.
We saw many Mandarin ducks in the garden. So, we crushed some cracker biscuits and started feeding these ducks with the crumbs. We soon ran out of crumbs and walked back to our room. The Mandarin ducks followed us back, too. We had to close the sliding door quickly to prevent the ducks from coming in. The ducks were pecking at the glass door and only went away after a long while.
This was a bedtime story that Laura loved to listen. Almost every night for many years, she would ask for this same story. She always had the same enthusiasm about it and never got tired of it.
Laura, this is the first time, ever; you are seeing the pictures below of these Mandarin ducks. Searched high and low for them until I found them.
Home was more at the pool and all the swim races and championships.
Fun with us, her parents. 😁
Penang, part of her holiday visit of some of the states in Malaysia before moving to the U.S. to further her tertiary studies.
As you can see from all these pictures; you have touched the lives of everyone; especially us; mummy and I.
Happy 21st birthday, Laura. What a super fantastic milestone. Mummy and I are so proud of you, for who you are. We wish you an awe-inspiring life, filled with all your dreams come true. We love you.❤️❤️❤️
Phew! Tiring. 24 events. Many, many heats. Jeannie and I got back from the Sports Excel Milo Junior Swimming Championship. It was a two day event held over the weekend (June 25 & 26, 2022) at the Selangor Aquatic Centre, Shah Alam. (1)
Laura, last swam in Malaysia in August, 2019. So, why are Jeannie and I still at it? Still at the swimming pool at competitions? The answer is simple. For one, the picture below says it all. Look at the smile on her face💖
Another reason is to give back to the sport in a way we can, when we can; for all that it has done for Laura in terms of being a part of her life-moulding process. The many people that have been a part of this process:
Coach Mark Chua, Coach Marilyn Chua, Coach Ong Jin Kooi, Coach Dr Molly Duesterhaus (Millikin University), Coach Mokhtar,
Parents: Richard Kok, Alan Teh, & Siew Toe, Peter & Ivy Chan, Connie & Ravi, Hannifah Yoong Yin Fah
Swimmers: Maryann Kok, Shaun Yap and all her teammates and swimmers from competitive teams, too; over the years in sport.
Squash G.O.A.T. : Datuk Nicol David, who took time to give Laura a pep talk on being champion when Laura was about 11 years old.
The list is non-exhaustive as there are many, many more people who have always been incredibly supportive over the years. We encourage this to carry on in the generations to come.
So, yeah. I guess it can be said that we can’t get enough.
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1. Shah Alam is in the state of Selangor, Malaysia.