I absolutely love the Olympics, not just to be able to watch the sports that we never get to see (like sport climbing – that was amazing!), but we get to look at life from a different perspective.
My favourite moments are the comebacks, the underdog winning, or hearing the stories of how people have overcome to achieve.
Did you hear about Owen Wilson? He broke his back in Hawaii a couple of years ago surfing massive waves and couldn’t even walk! Yet he is now an Australian bronze medallist for surfing
What about the story of the female Indian hockey player who had so little her mother would wait up all night for the sun to come up and then, when it was in the right spot, she would go and wake her daughter to be at training on time. Her dream was to buy her parents a house, and through representing her country in hockey, now she can!
How about Cate Campbell? No adversity as such, just pure hard work and persistence. She was convinced Rio was her last Olympics. Yet, she endured and medalled multiple times in Tokyo, ultimately leading Australia to victory in the women’s 4×100 medley relay!
People often dismiss the Olympic games as just sport, or the ridiculous pursuit of coming first. They suggest that it epitomises the very problem with humanity; we seek to only glorify the winner or define success as first, second or third. And whilst I can’t deny there are elements of this, I encourage you to look deeper. It is way more than this.
It is the dream to just be there, or the athlete who is excited to come last in the final because they made it that far. It’s the person who goes up to the winner after losing and embraces them, or the tears of devastation when missing out.
It is about the celebration of people who are brave enough to not just believe in an impossible dream, but commit to it completely; persisting, enduring and overcoming everything that life throws at them which forces the majority to give up. And it’s not just about them, it’s about the community around them. We’ve seen the pictures, everybody celebrates and everybody hurts as their athletes compete.
It is clear, isn’t it? Victory costs. To truly achieve something of worth requires extreme commitment and cost from the individual and their community.
Ultimately, though, isn’t this what we desire for our students, that they become so inspired and passionate about who they have been created to be and their purpose that they wholly commit? And, isn’t it our role as their community to cheer them on to take them through the highs and lows, paying the price, so they can truly succeed in becoming who God has designed them to be?
It is brilliant that we are so passionate as educators and parents, friends and family, to see our students succeed but we must learn from the athletes, that to truly achieve, we must be willing to pay the price of achieving something truly worthwhile.
Is there any wonder then, why, when Paul is encouraging the Philippians (Philippians 3), that he urges them to forget the past and rather run the race of life as if they were trying to win the prize? Paul recognises that the true prizes in life are not gold medals or first place, nor the accolades or praise, rather it’s the journey of overcoming to become. So run as if to win!
It’s not easy, nobody ever said it would be, but we need to draw support and inspiration from those around us who continue to run the race.
Whoever said it was ‘just a game’ wasn’t looking hard enough.