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Friday August 1, 2014 MYT 10:35:00 PM
Friday August 1, 2014 MYT 11:17:13 PM
by eric samuel
Prince William, seen here with his wife Kate Middleton, visited the Glasgow Commonwealth Games media centre where he chatted with The Star senior reporter Eric Samuel. - AFP
A VOLUNTEER in charge of security threw me out for entering a restricted area during the women’s artistic gymnastics competition at the SEC Hydro in Glasgow recently.
My intention was to interview a Malaysian gymnast who had completed her routine because we reporters have to meet a tight deadline (due to the seven-hour time difference between Glasgow and Malaysia).
At first, they allowed me into the hall, albeit reluctantly. Then, when I spotted the team manager at the mixed zone, he told me to follow him into the athletes’ lounge to conduct the interview.
But along the way, the security official stopped me from entering the lounge and ordered me out of the venue.
The manager tried to explain that I was there to do my job and that I should be allowed to carry out my duties but to no avail.
The manager said that there were just too many volunteers around (15,000 to be exact) and that they don’t know what they were doing.
In the end, I had to conduct my interview over the phone.
There was another occasion when I missed two medal events because I was trying to get the best of both worlds.
It was the day when Malaysia won the first medal – a silver from weightlifter Mohd Zulhelmi Pisol on July 25.
Luckily the paper had gone to sleep and the report was for online.
During this time, I was at the SEC Hydro – some 100m away – following the progress of the women’s rhythmic gymnasts, who were in the race for a podium finish in the team event.
When news reached that Malaysia had struck the silver in weightlifting, we (the Malaysian media) rushed over to the weightlifting venue.
But the event was over and Mohd Zulhelmi was taken for a doping test.
After waiting for an hour, we decided to go back and see how the rhythmic gymnasts were doing.
By then, the Malaysian girls too had won the team bronze and left the venue.
That was frustrating indeed.
Besides chasing for interviews, I had a pleasant surprise, too, when I came face-to-face with Prince William.
A record-breaking TV audience, with an estimated two billion people, tuned in to witness the Royal wedding of Prince William - the Duke of Cambridge - and Catherine Middleton more than three years ago (April 29, 2011) at Westminster Abbey in London.
The historic event was telecast live in Malaysia, too.
So, it was a pleasant surprise when the Prince visited the Main Press Centre (MPC) of the 20th Commonwealth Games at the Scottish Exhibition Convention Centre (SECC) in Glasgow.
The second in line to the British throne, he mingled with the media. It was a rare opportunity to have a chat with the stylish Prince when he stopped by to see how the media was getting along at the Games.
Totally unexpected (no protocol), I was shocked to see a familiar face stand before me. And before I knew it, the Prince greeted me. “And where have you come from” he asked.
I answered Malaysia
He replied: “Oh good! You guys should be doing well in badminton and squash.”
Then he moved on with the same question to a few other media representatives before leaving the MPC.
Well, it was a proud moment because Malaysia have made a name in the two sports – thanks to our ambassadors Nicol David and Lee Chong Wei, who have put us on the world map.
It reminded me of the theme song of the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur – “Standing In The Eyes Of The World”.
Yes, we feel proud to have world champions in our midst.
But there are some who recognise us for other reasons, as well.
There was one volunteer who stopped us at the squash venue and asked where we were from and when we said Malaysia – the response was “you mean the Prince from Malaysia (Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Jaa’far, the Commonwealth Games Federation chairman) who was trying to unlock the Queen’s Baton for the message to be read out at the opening ceremony?”
Then, there were others curious about the composition of The Star team (two Indians, a Chinese, a Sikh and a Chindian).
Nobody could guess where we came from correctly. They looked startled when we said we came from Malaysia.
It was the same when I first travelled to Chiang Mai for the SEA Games in 1995. This is my third Commonwealth Games after KL 1998 and Manchester 2002.
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