Matter of life and death

Beasley taking a nap while accompanying Josiah at a hospital in Aguascalientes, Mexico after the cyclist suffered a bad crash in the World Cup over the weekend.
Beasley taking a nap while accompanying Josiah at a hospital in Aguascalientes, Mexico after the cyclist suffered a bad crash in the World Cup over the weekend.

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DEC 10 — It was supposed to be a weekend where Josiah Ng was to enjoy some fajitas and buritos.

Instead, all it took was a nudge for the national cyclist and two other riders to crash during Heat 2 of the Keirin event at the World Cup in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

According to national coach John Beasley, Josiah suffered two broken ribs, a punctured lung and broke his right clavicle (collarbone). He even had a broken tooth lodged in his throat.

Despite the injuries, Josiah was in good spirits as evident on his Facebook and Twitter pages.

However, one cannot imagine the thoughts that raced through the minds of Beasley, his teammates and his wife Kim Ong. Watching Josiah lying at the side of the track, motionless and helpless, strikes a hard reality check — where anything can happen.

Josiah had broken the same collarbone during the 2007 World Cup in Spain. In 2011, Azizulhasni Awang had a 20cm shard of Siberian pine pierced his calf after crashing in another World Cup in Manchester.

Both athletes were fortunate they had good medical support by the side — officers from the National Sports Institute also accompanied them to the medical personnel hired by the organisers.

However, there have been instances in the past where we have taken the medical support lightly.

This reminded me of a friendly match early last year between Selangor and the Olympic team coached by Ong Kim Swee.

In the match, then Selangor player R. Surendran dislocated his shoulder and was forced to walk from the pitch to the car park before he was taken by a team official to the Kelana Jaya Medical Centre.

Sadly, there were no medical officers or ambulance on standby at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Ong was surprised when the matter was highlighted to him after the match. He then rightfully said “it was no laughing matter”.

It is certainly no joke as freak accidents and athletes falling like ten pins due to cardiovascular and other health problems have occurred on many occasions.

Prompt action by medical experts stationed on the sidelines could save lives and ensure the injury is not further aggravated. It is all about timing.

We should never take such matters lightly. The athlete’s well-being is as important as winning a match. You may lose a competition today but you can make it up by winning later.

You lose an athlete and you will not be able to find another gem like him or her.

Perhaps this is where the National Sports Institute (NSI) can be roped in to educate sports organisations and the masses that no matter how small the event, medical support is of paramount importance.

Beasley and NSI performance scientist Chee Lee Ming, who accompanied the cycling team to Mexico, have been Josiah’s pillar of support throughout the first 24 hours of the nerve wracking incident. They somehow cushioned the anxiety of Josiah’s loved ones based miles apart.

In fact, Beasley has decided to stay back to keep an eye on Josiah until he is discharged from hospital. A picture of him taking a nap at the hospital was posted on Josiah’s Facebook page. Such fatherly love is something money cannot buy.

Hopefully, Josiah will be back on his bicycle in no time as he sets his eyes on qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

And here’s a poem dedicated to Beasley:

As for Beasley
who now plays nanny,
go drink some whisky,
eat some tacos they are tasty,
your treat for playing daddy.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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