I CONFESS I have been hooked to the Olympics. Even though the empty arenas with the surrounding ‘Tokyo 2020’ signs are a reminder that we are still readjusting and recovering from the pandemic, we cannot doubt the sheer determination of the athletes; all competing for a medal.
Thirty competitors from the North of Ireland represented Team GB and Team Ireland, and every single one of them have done us proud.
Never thought crossing the finish line in 2.27 could bring so much joy and elation. Not the race I set out to run but proud I somehow managed to drag myself round to the end. Tried to enjoy the last km as much as I could, thinking of the journey here and all who supported me. pic.twitter.com/GYX60bHgl0— Paul Pollock (@ppmarathon) August 8, 2021
There is just something about watching the athletes that challenge us to be determined, resilient, and courageous and to never give up. I was particularly struck by two athletes. The first one being the World’s greatest US gymnast Simone Biles who chose to pull out of the Olympics. She exampled that it’s okay to say:
No, not this time
This isn’t right for me
I’m not ready
Popularity is not the goal
My mental health is more important.
Of course, Simone did end up competing and went on to win a bronze medal, but let’s not lose sight that she exampled how to set a boundary for herself on the world stage.
Another athlete that stood out for me was our very own Rhys McClenaghan from Ards. This young gymnast is the first Irish gymnast to make it into an Olympic final. Even though he finished seventh, he showed determination amidst his disappointment, and rightly stated ‘my head is held higher than ever.’ The Apostle Paul penned the words ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’
We know that in the first century, the Romans celebrated the Olympic Games. Of course, the people of Corinth would have been very familiar with the games, and so it is no surprise that Paul drew inspiration to pen such words using the competition as an analogy for people of faith. What appeared to stand out for the Apostle Paul was the importance of finishing well.
I wonder when you watch the Olympics – what do you think about? For me, I can’t help thinking about how a lot of life is about getting back up. Getting back up after…
And so on.
As I watch the athletes compete, I think it is a gentle reminder that whatever the outcome, whatever has knocked us off our feet, it is important to take time, catch our breath and with God’s strength – get back up! Be determined and courageous to always finish well.
Both Simone and Rhys are an example of not giving up.
Get to your feet. Don’t quit!