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Bob Malaythong:  Medalless but Proud and Grateful


The Summer Olympics Games are wrapping up in Beijing, China. Many athletes had completed their games and have returned home to their respective countries. Some stay on to watch the rest of the games and to tour the capital of China. Among them is Bob or Khankham Malaythong, the first Lao-American Olympian. In a follow-up interview by VOA via telephone from Beijing, Bob talked about his competition and experience in his first Olympics. Bob is number one in the US team and ranks 19th in the world's standing in men's double Badminton.


To compete in the Olympics is the ultimate dream of all athletes. Many of them, from around the globe, dream of reaching that high and of getting medals in the Olympics, any medal. Bob's dream came true once he arrived in Beijing, on August 2nd , 2008, to prepare for the matches of his life. Bob told VOA that he felt fine when he arrived in Beijing despite the long flight and he never got sick although the weather was hot and it rained for few days. Talking about the impressive Olympic Village, he said "It had everything including medical teams, and the foods are good. I was treated for my shoulder pain and had to take some medicine to get ready for the games. I practiced very hard, twice a day for four hours. They treated us like heroes here."


Bob Malaythong and Howard Bach, the US team in men's double badminton, won over South Africa and advanced to the semifinals to face, unfortunately, the best of the world – the Chinese team.

Bob said, "We met stronger opponents than we had expected. we made it in the quarterfinals and lost to China in the semifinals. It's OK, we gave all we had. The Chinese played their very best. I thought we had a chance, but we just couldn't deliver that day. Our coach told us that we were too tense when we played the Chinese in that match."


Bob said he has learned a lot in this summer Olympics, and will bring this experience to work with his badminton students. He has already been offered a job to coach in Boston, Massachusetts, when he returns home. "I am very proud to be the first Lao-American athlete to have come this far. I have not only made a name for myself, but also for my family, my community and my country. And I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Team USA."


Will he be competing in the next Olympics? Bob's reply was that he would rather coach a team that will bring home a gold medal. His advice to future Badminton players? "Try your best and be the best that you can. If you want to be a good athlete then start very early while you were young like myself, I came to the United States of America when I was only 8 years old. My brother-in-law put me through this hard work of practicing badminton 4 days a week. Keep practicing and you will eventually get better, better
and better. You've just got to start really young."


Bob would also like to participate and play for the Lao national team in the upcoming 25th SEA Games that Laos will host in late 2009. "I don't think it will be any problem for me. I'll be starting a new job as a coach in September, but if they allow me to take some time off, then I'll go play for the Lao team, and again I play men's double. I am not sure that I will have a partner who can play well with me, unless they send someone over to practice with me in America. Then we can go from there."


"As for this summer Olympics, I am proud to represent America and the Lao community as well. I'm sorry not to be able to deliver a medal, although I gave all I could," Bob concluded.

Listen to an interview with Olympian by clicking audio files above.

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