When heart-warming acts under tough situations steal the hearts of many

Denmark fans react after the ball is kicked out in the 10th minute of the match to applaud Denmark's Christian Eriksen who remains in hospital after collapsing during the match between Denmark and Finland last Saturday. -- REUTERS/Filepic

DENMARK’S Christian Eriksen collapsed on the football field. Indonesia’s Markis Kido slumped on the badminton court.

Both suffered cardiac arrest. One survived but the other did not make it.

They were sad days for sport. Yet, behind both these unfortunate incidents this week, we saw goodness in humanity, teammates and friends coming together and quick thinking under pressure.

When the 29-year-old Eriksen dropped just before half-time in last Saturday’s game against Finland at Euro 2020, team captain Simon Kjaer stepped up and did all the right things.

He rushed toward his best buddy, stabilised his head and opened his mouth to prevent him swallowing his tongue – a move deemed crucial before the medical staff arrived.

Then, he organised his teammates to make a circle to shield his fallen friend from the glare of media and public and later reassured Eriksen’s distraught partner.

The fast-thinking act saved his friend’s life. His calm demeanour and good leadership won the hearts of many.

The atmosphere was totally different in Tangerang, 20km west of Jakarta on Monday night when 36-year-old former men’s doubles Olympics champion Markis suffered a heart attack.

There were no fans, no media glare but just a few equally determined friends led by former Olympian Candra Wijaya – doing the same, standing by their friend – trying to bring back to life the father of two children.

Unfortunately, despite all the effort, Markis died but the world of badminton came alive that day.

Condolences poured in with kind words flooding the social media for the humble player, who had captivated the hearts of many fans with his smashing performance for more than a decade.

It’s always good to have your fellow comrades who know your struggles by your side.

In Malaysia, though, national high jumper Lee Hup Wei has had the shock of his life. He has learnt that he will not have his Uzbekistan-born coach Aleksandar Gasparyan in his corner for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Hup Wei has not qualified on merit unless he does it at the Olympics qualifiers in Almaty, Kazakhstan, this week but based on the ranking, he is likely to make the cut anyway.

However, instead of including his coach, Malaysian Athletics Association (MAF) have named an official instead.

Asked about the rationale behind this, the national body stated that the official had the technical expertise to advise under any situation in the role as a team manager.

Why send an official when a coach can give Hup Wei the best support – and who knows every inch of his own athlete’s form, temperament and technicality?

Fortunately for Hup Wei, many voices in social media have stood up and are fighting for his right.

One of them is former athletics official Mohd Musa Noor Mohd, who has sent a letter to the Youth and Sports Minister, National Sports Council and Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) to step in and seek a solution for Hup Wei.

In his Facebook posting, Musa said: “Hup Wei is taking part in a technical event, where sideline coaching can only be provided by a coach. Why send a state secretary?”

Hup Wei has also appealed to the association but it seems it’s too late to make the changes. Hup Wei’s friends in the athletics circle have also thrown in their support – and for now, that’s the only comfort Hup Wei has as he targets his third Olympics appearance.

At a time when one is helpless, it’s always wonderful to have caring friends, good officials and even strangers standing up to throw in the support.

The outcome may not always be positive but the fight has to go on.

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