As many may know, Dr. Ashley Liew, 29, will be awarded the International Fair Play Committee (CIFP)’s Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy for his sporting actions during the 2015 South East Asia (SEA) Games.
The CIFP is an international organisation that recognises acts of fair play by sportspeople and teams from around the world. Ashley is the first Singaporean athlete to win the award.
Said Ashley – a recent graduate from the Sherman College of Chiropractic in South Carolina, the United States, and who begins work as a chiropractor at the Family Health Chiropractic Clinic (Singapore) next month, “I was pleasantly shocked as I opened the email in the Sherman College of Chiropractic health centre – to the point that I had fellow interns also read it, so I knew it was for real. I had just finished seeing my patients that day and also heard about the news of Singaporean Yip Pin Xiu winning her second Paralympic gold, so the day could not have been any more joyous.”
Humbled by the award
He added, “It is immensely humbling to know that the Singapore National Olympic Committee went out of their way to nominate me for this award. It is surreal that a seemingly small act at the time on a rainy Singapore morning would unexpectedly take me to Hungary for an awards ceremony.”
The awards ceremony will be taking place on 15 October this year in Budapest, Hungary.
On a wet and rainy morning on 7 June 2015, Ashley had found himself 50 metres ahead of the chasing pack in the Men’s Marathon event at the SEA Games when all of the runners – except Ashley – had mistakenly taken a wrong turn. But instead of capitalising on his advantage, Ashley had slowed down to let his competitors catch up.
Good sportsmanship is important
Good sportsmanship has always been important to Ashley. He said, “Like I shared with the Singapore Athletics team a week before the 2015 Games, sportsmanship is a quality that all sportspeople need to have. It is not just about the medals, but also the things that you do in between. The seemingly mundane and routine in-betweens during every single act or thought, even when people are not watching, are a snapshot of an athlete’s character. Since running is a metaphor of life in general, it means giving off your best in every situation regardless of the outcome. That best does not just refer to performance but also one’s mindset, and the constant drive to do what is right.”
Ashley added, “For example, people do not remember who won the 2016 Rio Olympics 5,000m Women’s Semi Final; they remember Abbey D’agostina and Nikki Hamblin who kept their calm in the midst of an unfortunate situation and spurred each other on to the finish. (Nikki had stumbled on the inside lane, tripping Abbey. But both girls helped each other to the finishing line). People also do not remember who won the recent World Triathlon Series finale in Mexico, but they remember how Alistair Brownlee slowed his own race down to help his exhausted brother Jonathan to clinch runner-up. Everyone can be a winner in my books.”
Success is not everything
He also points out that despite today’s modern and fast-paced society whereby success is encouraged, success is not everything.
Said Ashley, “In this fast-paced society which increasingly defines success in terms of monetary reward, academic results and winning something, there is a value in slowing down. Sports participation is about the journey and about dreaming big; so it should not be used as a means to an end at all costs. We have a role to play when it comes to inspiring our community to do what is right.”
He added, “Winning competitions and playing fair should go hand in hand.”
Cheating and doping isn’t right
For athletes who resort to cheating and doping, Ashley stresses that “quick fixes” to achieve success in the short term are not the solution; often such athletes get found out in the end too.
Said Ashley, “There are no winners from any such shortcuts. When I was training in Kenya, the talk among the locals about doping allegations was at its peak. We were all dismayed that a few black sheep – athletes and managers alike – were tainting the reputation of a world class running nation that prides itself on a foundation of hard work. All we can do as athletes ourselves is to be on guard against temptation of such quick fixes.”