A Champion or A Clown?

From the previous posting of It’s That Time of the Year to Think BIG!, we continue into this post with another set of motivation to inspire you to Think Big. And again, in the most random way possible to make the introduction, let’s lock our mental vision to two pertinent characters – The Clown and The Champion.

To many, a Champion is often praised and lifted because of their success. Whether they are in sports, in the business arena, in school, in politics or even in the little community where we live in, there’s almost always a champion in our midst who’d go the distance to claim the victory.

They’d go the extra mile, through the tumultuous journey, sustaining the heartaches, missing the birthdays, weddings, and sacrificing the much needed rest by pounding at the work relentlessly just to make a difference in their lives. All this in hopes that when D Day arrives, they are rated the best!

Have you begun cultivating the right mindset to get there?

Growing up as an 80’s kid, we would have been glued to the TV whenever the Olympics came around. We would be in awe of the record breaking feats and the performance of these super humans as they go about their way to break that record after years of fine tuning their game. To the medal tallies, there was only one champion – the gold medallist. But as the human race matures, we began to acknowledge that even for an athlete to qualify into the world stage, that in itself speaks volumes. In every right, they are already a champion. 

And so through our little screens that we watch the games on today, we must remind ourselves that when a tournament like the Olympics are on, it’s actually the battle of the champions. In every discipline, every kilometre, every kilogram and every second, they have been pressed in and moulded to be the best to represent their respective countries so they could wrestle with one another to see which champion can emerge as numero uno, and to reach for the stars and beyond.

And not so long ago, through one of the twitter feeds, there was this video that came through our tiny screens. This champion was a solid athlete who charmed the world over, at a time when sophisticated machinery to aid sporting practices was still a rarity or almost non-existent. 

Olga Valentinovna Korbut – Mother of Modern Gymnastics

This little dynamite was also known as the Sparrow from Minsk having hailed from Hrodna in Belarus (then part of the Soviet Union). She was known to have defied gymnastics norms by doing the unthinkable such as “a backward aerial somersault on the balance beam and the first to do a backward release on the uneven parallel bars (britannica.com)”. Her daring moves were so impressive that the gymnastics circuit attributed some movements to her like the Korbut salto and the Korbut flip (britannica.com).

Olga however was not the first in the family to pick up the sport as she had only trailed her sister to class when they first began. But destiny might have chanced upon her as she went from competition to competition, winning medals every now and then, and eventually rose to the podium as an Olympic champion – 4 Golds and 2 Silvers to be exact – over two Olympics in 1972 Munich and 1976 Montreal.

To catch a glimpse of how this little sparrow revolutionised the world of gymnastics, let’s watch this 34 seconds exciting clip here. It’ll sure to blow you away especially after knowing it was done almost half a century ago – 47 years.

Now the Clown – Turning Failure into Success

Going back to the Think Big theme, I’d like to help us recall one guy who made the whole world laugh. We laughed not because he was funny but because he was terrible, so terrible that he became the biggest laughing stock reality TV had ever seen.

This clown predates The Voice, Britain’s Got Talent, America’s Got Talent, and all the other reality talent shows on the planet. His name is William Hung

Thanks to the great producers and judges like Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul, their entertaining judging coupled with William’s audition had probably launched American Idol into a greater television commodity better than any TV pundits would have predicted. Not only did the show go on to become a success but so did William, who gained instant fame, and for all the wrong reasons too, or was it?

William was a relatively nobody at that time, and probably still is now but there was a little fire inside that gave him the courage to do his best and to bust his moves on stage. For his very short but memorable performance, William singlehandedly shook the world. Admittedly, not many geniuses, and sometimes fools included, could have done such damage in one single attempt. But by then, William had already hung the world upside down with his “enigmatic” “She Bangs”. 

Nevertheless, the billion dollar questions in the horizon after the audition were:

  • Was William discouraged after that? 
  • Was he petrified by Simon’s comments? 
  • Was he belittled by the pressure from the world? 

In more ways than one and in all likelihood, he must have been, poor guy, but did something come out of this eventually?

The answer is, yes. After 14 years from his glorious global shaming on American Idol, he was finally on his way to meet his true idol, Ricky Martin

How did I know this? Because I have stumbled upon William’s appearance on TEDx, posted on 24 July 2018 on YouTube. In the video, he re-lived the memories of what motivated him to go to the audition and how his world may have changed, forever. And the truth is, before that epic audition, he was first spurred on to enter American Idol primarily because he won a talent contest by singing and dancing to the very same song at his university.

The TEDx video is only about 13 minutes long and William, unlike Olga, was not impressive in his delivery and neither was he charming or entertaining. But what drew me to watch the entire clip was “William Hung on TEDx”. 

“What can a clown like William share on an inspiring intelligent show like TEDx?” I thought, more so when it had already been 14 years since he took the world by storm! And so I watched, and after watching it, I think you should too.

To the majority out there, William is nothing more than a doofus, next to nothing and can hardly make any impact in anyone’s life. But we must remember, like a lot of us too, William is just a guy with dreams and he has no qualms working diligently towards those dreams. The only difference between William and us is that his efforts have been recognised despite his “failure”.

William broke boundaries and challenged conventional standards. He even defied his parents to enter the talent competition. But the most gratifying outcome from this episode is being labelled by the world as the worst ever. 

What would you do if you were called such names? 

Could you muster the courage to stand up again? 

Would you be able to come back up on stage and do “She Bangs” again? 

Or how about being invited to a programme like TEDx 14 years later as a “failure” to inspire?

I reckon we could all draw some inspiration from William, not forgetting Olga. The former, chastised as the biggest clown on the planet and the latter as the gymnast that have rewrote the history of the gymnastics world.

For the both of them, the common denominator is this – the world. They both had a global audience, and they have both in their very own way found it in their heart to push through and be the best that they can ever be. Of course, Olga stands on a different plane altogether as her gymnastic prowess has proven to stand the test of time. But we must also not discount William because in all honesty, the world truly carries more William’s than Olga’s but that alone shall not separate the lesser from being daring to think and dream big.

For more about Olga, here’s a longer video of her performance.

Check out her biography also on the Olympic Channel, Encyclopaedia Britannica and her website.
Back by popular demand, here’s William’s audition at American Idol.

And here’s the original She Bangs by Ricky Martin, enjoy!

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