Many reasons to celebrate as the Olympics kick off
Women fully represented; Thai contingent smaller but playing more
At last, the Olympic torch has reached the end of its journey down the Thames. The cauldron of the London 2012 Olympics was lit before the eyes of hundreds of millions of spectators watching in excitement on Friday night.
The world has again celebrated the biggest sports event on earth, which unites the athletes of all countries, continents, races and genders. The London Olympics opened in style with spectacular performance and fireworks.
This year, Olympians have another cause to celebrate. This is the first time since the inception of the Olympic Games that all participating countries have sent female athletes to the Olympics, marking impressive progress from the ancient Greek days when women were not allowed to participate in the Games at all.
An army of Thai athletes is participating in the Olympics in London. The hype leading up to the Games may be relatively subdued in Thailand compared to previous years, due to the smaller number of participating athletes from Thailand in this event. However, after the Thai weightlifting team entered the stadium on Saturday night, the mood should have changed.
Our athletes should bring jubilation and cheers from their fans in Thailand.
The participation of Thai athletes this year should be commended, for they cover a wider scope of sports. This year, 37 Thai athletes from 16 sports associations have joined the event. Although the number of participating athletes is lower than the 51 seen at the previous Olympics in Beijing, Thai athletes are participating in a wider range of sports; only 13 sports associations joined the event four years ago.
At the London Olympics, Thais are participating in new categories for the Kingdom, such as archery, kayaking and equestrian events - Thailand even stands a chance of clinching its first Olympics equestrian medal.
It is a pity, though, that Thailand has not sent a tennis player to the Olympics for the first time since 1988. An absence of Thai tennis players in London shows the country's failure to produce a new generation of tennis players to replace the likes of Paradorn Srichaphan and Tamarine Tanasugarn. The tennis association will have to work harder if it wants to maintain the momentum to recruit new players.
Traditionally, the focus of Thai athletes at the Olympics Games has been boxing. But this year, only three Thai boxers are competing. And even the Amateur Boxing Association of Thailand is not sure if Thai boxers will be able to snatch three gold medals. An internal conflict within the association has distracted the attention of the association from concentrating on producing a new generation of players.
Nonetheless, Thailand may win a medal in weightlifting, and Taekwondo may produce pleasantly surprising news for Thais.
At any rate, the number of golds is not the only factor in gauging the success of the event. The Games should inspire people to have the discipline and determination needed to excel in whatever area they are passionate about.
The Olympics represent the ultimate dream for the athletes who work hard with determination, physical and mental strength as well as tolerance to showcase their excellence for a global audience.
The athletes are examples of how humans can always rise beyond their limitations to reach the ultimate glory. There is nothing humans cannot accomplish if they have determination.