There are so many inspiring stories about the athletes who train for and compete in the Olympics. Both the Summer and the Winter Olympics are grueling and highly competitive. Yet the back stories on the people who make it to this world stage are both inspiring and amazing.
For example in 1988 a Jamaican Bobsled team competed in the winter Olympics. The last time I checked Jamaica does not get snow…nor does it reach temperatures cold enough to have enough ice for Bob Sled training. Yet, a team showed up at the 1988 Winter Olympics to compete. They didn’t even own Bob sleds and had to borrow them from other competing teams in order to participate in the event. They competed for pride and for the pure sportsmanship of the games. Their inspiring story even ended up being made into a movie in 1993 and was again an inspiration to many who saw it.
When we think of the Olympics the imagery of winning gold medals come to mind, and the glory involved for the country who dominates a certain sport. But for any country who even competes in these events there is national pride and honor involved. Above and beyond the glory of winning an event, there is the joy of even being there to excel in excellence.
Another inspiring story comes to mind when I think of the Olympics, it is the story of Canadian Lawrence Lemieux. He was a Summer Olympian in Sailing. During the 1988 Summer Olympic games in Seoul South Korea as he was in the heat of his sailing event he saw a Singaporean boat capsize injuring the two sailors on board. He quickly altered course of his boat and immediately went to their rescue. In that moment Lawrence Lemieux didn’t have gold medals in his eyes, he had concern for others. Because of his bravery and concern those two lives were saved. Later, after finally completing the race (which he placed 22nd because of altering course to save lives) he was awarded second place in that heat. He didn’t go on to win the event (he ultimately placed 11th) but despite not winning gold, he won the hearts of many around the world for his heroic act of bravery. At the podium for the awards ceremony in the Sailing category, though Lemieux didn’t win gold he was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal by the president of the International Olympic Committee.
The idea behind our current Olympics embodies comradery, endurance, hard work, sportsmanship, team work and so many more adjectives.
I cringe when some individuals on this stage display poor sportsmanship and throw fits because they didn’t win an event. I think those athletes miss the point. Yes everyone is to compete to the best of their abilities but the Olympics is not only about winning. It is about striving for excellence and coming together peacefully as nations from around the world under one cause.
If only we didn’t have to wait every four years to come together.
If only we didn’t have to leave the arena or the Olympic village where regardless of ethnicity or difference by and large the athletes live for two weeks in harmony. If only…
To quote John Lennon, “You might say I’m a dreamer, but you know I’m not the only one.”
For just a second I wish our nations, all nations could put aside differences and wars and blood shed to see the bigger picture. For just a second I wish we as human beings would wake up and see what hatred and violence truly does and the long term effects of these divides. For just a second I wish we heard more stories of heroism and love displayed not just at the Olympics but in every corner of the world.
We have to tear down these walls that divide us if we’re going to survive each other. Jesus once said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven...” (Matt 5:43-45)
I know injustice exists in this world. I know that we don’t live in a Mary Poppins world where everything is easily solved with “just a spoon full of sugar”, but I believe despite of how others treat us, we (who are are Christ-followers) ought to rise above it and love despite its lack of reciprocation.
The Olympics give me hope and reminds me that one day the King of Heaven will make all things new and restore creation to its intended state…in the mean time I don’t have to wait for that to happen, I can live as a child of the Father in Heaven now. I can rise above the hate and display what love, Godly love looks like.