Wednesday, April 18, 2007

48th National Interschools Cross Country

Yesterday, was an angst filled day at Turf City as we faced yet another sporting upset.
Our C-Div boys placed 4th and our B-Div boys placed 3rd in both division titles.
While we're still strong in the Top 4, this is the first time in donkey years (19 in fact) that VS has NOT taken either a C-Div or B-Div Championship title.
In fact, we have on occasion taken BOTH C-Div and B-Div Championship titles and have done so for the last 2 years.

The chain has been broken but what a show of spirit the boys gave. We did not win but let's not discredit ourselves because 3rd and 4th placing shouldn't be seen as a loss either!
It has been reported in papers that the other competing schools disntinguished themselves by 'the manner in which they crossed the finishing line. Even though they were tired, they stood and smiled encouragingly at each other.'


Let me tell you about crossing finishing lines.
It's easy to stand around and smile encouragingly at each other at the finishing line- heck, what do you think our boys have been doing at the finishing line for the past 19 years when we maintained our unbroken winning streak?
But, I mean, when you are in a good leading position, that's the natural thing to do; so we never made a big deal about it.

But I digress, let me tell you about crossing finishing lines.

With our first 3 runners coming in at about 2nd, 7th and 8th, we stood a good chance to fight for 1st and 2nd placing. However, as Thomas Ho, our 3rd runner was poised to cross the finishing line, he collapsed from sheer exhaustion about 15m from the finishing line.


Lying motionless, the anguished Victorian crowd cheered him on- with Principal, Mr Low, himself there to spur him on.

It has been reported in the papers that our rival schools have ingrained their athletes with the notion that 'Champions don't collapse"

Precious seconds ticked by as our Victorian lay motionless.

As the other runners lapped Thomas, the chances of clinching our B-Div Championship title faded further and further away. But deep in our hearts we knew that we were priviledged to witness a struggle here bigger than the race, bigger than the entire Cross-Country Championships itself.

As we saw Thomas struggle to lift himself up, we knew that we were about to see how
one single, minute individual can overcome the finite capabilities of the body and touch infinity by becoming something greater than himself, and how a thousand individual hearts can beat together- as ONE.

Thomas took in all the reserves of his strength to gather to his feet. Our roars and our cheers pulsing in heart, mind and soul.
Tapping into the deepest core of his being, he willed himself to stand and stand tall.

Taking a hesitant step, he pushed forward and headed on. Just a few metres before the line, Thomas fell-Again.

They tell us that 'Champions don't fall"
But Thomas was there on the ground. He was spent. He knew there was no way he could stand.
But the race was not over, we who play the Sportsmen's game know that we run every race to the finish.

They tell us that 'Champions don't fall"
We watched with blazing pride as time stood still and Thomas reached out with his hands to crawl and haul his body across the finish line. His feet may have failed him but his soul did not.

In his spent and almost delirious state, his first words were:


"How did we do?"
and
"Sorry, I fell"

So let me tell you about crossing finishing lines-

1)Team before self.
2)Taking ownership for our actions: both success and failure.
3)Giving all you have and then some more.

THAT is the Victorian Spirit in word, action and deed.
The world would have you believe that champions don't fall.
The world would have you believe that encouragement consists of a pat on the back when you're doing well.

Victoria School begs to differ:
We tell you and we ingrain in you:
We say "Boys, we EXPECT you to FALL- otherwise, how will you be able to stretch your limits?"

Because in your time with us, we are going to make Men out of you and push you to your limits and beyond. You will be something more in word, action and deed.

We say "It's not how many times you fall that we're worried about; it's how many times you get up"
We say "The difference between a winner and a champion is that the Winner got the medal, the Champion won the race."
We say encouragement isn't about patting ourselves on the back when we do well; it's telling ourselves to do better when we are facing difficulty.

Just look at our boys cheering away at Turf City. You would think that we had walked away with the B and C Division Championship medal from the way we cheer!

It is with a fierce Victorian pride in my heart as I challenge anyone else out there to show this level of 'encouragement' when YOU LOSE.
We are often imitated, sometimes replicated but we can never be duplicated!

They say 'Champions don't fall down'; we say that "It is getting up from your falls that make you champions"

That is the difference in coaching philosophy between the arrogance of winning schools and resilience of champion schools.

Yesterday, it's true we were definitely not winners... we were something more.

Viva Victoria

8 comments:

Wang Jiehao said...

Thanks Mr Siow! Cheer up everyone of you, because Victorians are ultimately sportsmen, we do not succumb to failure, but we take it as a stepping stone to success.

Anonymous said...

Mr Siow,
Medals may not be won. Titles may be lost. So what? No, big deal! Far more important, character and the VS spirit remain intact and perhaps rubbed to give a greater shine. The whole experience though painful is an enriching learning experience to all VS present.
Without distingush, You VS has crossed that line together!
VIVA!

Anonymous said...

To Thomas,
You are the Hero of the day. If I were the reporter, I will not miss this heroic spirit in my reporting. Well, well, not everyone know how to go beyond...But you have definitely demonstrated how.
Salute to you!

Anonymous said...

Mr Siow,
I am very happy with your coaching phillosophy. You are definitely steering the boys in the right direction.Indeed, winning is not everything for VS nor you.
As VS is forever and so is your philosophy!

Anonymous said...

"That is the difference in coaching philosophy between the arrogance of winning schools and resilience of champion schools."

Arrogance? Once again media reports create tension and unwanted 'hatreds' between schools. No disrespects to any individuals nor schools, but the manner in which this blog entry was written was way too 'personal' to address the problems that arose from the media report. The issue about the finishing line was certainly an individual observation made by the reporter herself and that the RI coach's reply was to answer the interviewer's question!

"They tell us that 'Champions don't fall'"

Who said that to VS? Certainly the blogger has taken this reply as a direct verbal jibe to VS which, in truth, may not be the case!

I am certainly encouraged by passionate teachers who do their best in instilling students with a strong sense of identity and passion for their school but the manner in which some young Victorians perceive these messages are appalling. To the extent of cursing at their rival schools, creating unwanted hatred. Certainly the spirit of identity and passion, together with the effects of friendly competition are good for schools and students but to instill them in such a manner would not be deem appropriate, in a third party's view that is.

Juz my few cents of thoughts. (Someone who has VS cousins)

Mr Siow said...

"No disrespects to any individuals nor schools, but the manner in which this blog entry was written was way too 'personal' to address the problems that arose from the media report."

This blog is NOT and was NEVER meant to ADDRESS or REDRESS any problems arising from any media report. It is a personal response to a new's article, hence it has to be personal. Since I'm not writing an SEM report or Work Review here, I guess I can be personal here.

"They tell us that 'Champions don't fall'"Who said that to VS? Certainly the blogger has taken this reply as a direct verbal jibe to VS which, in truth, may not be the case!"

I think any of the many runners who collapsed after giving their all on that day, would feel kinda sh**ty after giving their best for their school. It is a low-blow statement to ALL athletes who have given their best on that day and collapsed or fell after giving their all for their own respective schools.

I'm sure that these athletes are all Champions in the eyes of their schools, teachers and peers.
Winners and losers in any competition can say anything they want- but what you say and the manner in which it is said reveals your attitude, disposition and approach to life, competition and values.

My words and content in this blog will show that I take a very 'personal' interest in the well-being of all students in VS-yes, it is a personal thing. Just like how, the words and tone of others give allow me to form my impressions of them.

"To the extent of cursing at their rival schools, creating unwanted hatred."

Ah this is something important. No where in this post or in this blog will you find any statement to discredit, curse or run-down any of our fellow competitors, fellow schools, etc. The fact that we don't take kindly to certain careless remarks made does not mean we also condone bad behaviour, rudeness or arrogance from our boys.

If you read the posts or comments, you'll that there is no 'cursing' and 'creation of hatred' of 'rival schools' here in this blog.

"Certainly the spirit of identity and passion, together with the effects of friendly competition are good for schools and students but to instill them in such a manner would not be deem appropriate"

What are the values we seek to instill?
To all our competitors, past, present and future,
Work hard for next year because it is you who spur us to greater heights. Every champion succeeds only because he had a worthy opponent whom he respected, understood and pitched himself against- there can be no meaningful definition of a champion if there are not opponents to provide a challenge.

If you triumph over us, know that we will not be broken and will strive to take us both to the next level of the game.
If we triumph over you, know that we will not ridicule you because it is you that has been our inspiration and target.
We hold you in high regard because through our mutual struggle we bring out the best in each other.

These are our values and we instill them in the way we play the Sportsman's Game

Nil Sine Labore

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Siow,
Hmm indeed you are right. A blog is a personal thing. Kudos to your arguments and reply.
Juz wondering if blogs are true and truly personal, why did quite a few bloggers get jail terms for their personal remarks, impressions and views on political and racial issues?
Politically your propaganda is not wrong or illegal but the morals side of the blog might not be very appropriate.
Ok i shan't comment any further, my intention was to identify the facts that your tone in that particular blog entry coincides with the numerous inappropriate interviews and reportings by media personnel which unwittingly creates unwanted tension between schools and especially to some young students who naturally still very narrow minded in their thinking.
My arguments are based on the fact that i have cousins in VS and their behaviour off school due to this incident (and blog entry) made me comment. Kudos to you for instilling a very strong sense of ownership in them but narrow minded students might not be able to express their own feelings in correct and acceptable ways.
Cheers!
(not meant in anyway to be personal)

Mr Siow said...

"My arguments are based on the fact that i have cousins in VS and their behaviour off school due to this incident (and blog entry) made me comment...narrow minded students might not be able to express their own feelings in correct and acceptable ways"

That is something you and I can work to help with.

Help me reinforce to your cousins that we need to stand up for our beliefs by defining ourselves with dignity and poise with what we do right; and not through ridicule of others by what they do wrong.

Education is not only through academic lessons; the life skills we learn through CCA, other activities and interactions with peers, family, etc., form an important part of our growing process.

If the values we instill in school are echoed at home; and the morals at home are reflected in schools, then together families and educators will be able to make teach not only, Maths, Science; but we will be able to teach the value of life as well.

Find an opportunity to talk to your cousins about this issue so that you can also help them to understand the through issues at hand: the true spirit of competition, how to cope with winning and losing, etc.

Together, I am sure we will help turn them into true Gentlemen, Professionals and Sportsmen.