Lasting Olympic Images

Olympic pictures really are worth a thousand words.
by Jim Fair | Source:

Victory can bring out the best and worst in people, a truism proved in the final days of the 2008 Summer Olympics.  And while many people will have their own favorite memories and images of these Olympics, two pictures of victory will remain in my mind.

The first came at the end of the women’s soccer championship, where the U.S. women won the gold.  One of the team’s top players celebrated by pulling off her shirt and running around the field in her pink sports bra.  Her body sported more tattoos than a ship of pirates.  It was not an image of modesty, sportsmanship or gratitude, although I suppose it did demonstrate a certain exuberance.

The second image I will remember came at the end of the men’s marathon.  After 26.2 miles running well under a five-minute pace, Samuel Wanjiru smiled warmly as he entered the stadium and the final quarter mile of the race, well ahead of his nearest competitor.  The 21-year-old Kenyan (5’4”, 112 lbs) waved to the crowd in recognition of their cheers.

As he crossed the finish line, he crossed himself, then he stopped, knelt, and crossed himself again.  Then he got up, jogged to the stands to get his country’s flag and made a lap of the stadium.  He smiled a smile of joy and gratitude.

I don’t know either of these athletes.  Maybe they are both wonderful people.  But one chose to become a spectacle in victory; the other chose to give thanks.

Those are the two images I will most remember from these Olympics.  And I pray that whenever God gives me a victory, no matter how large or small, I’ll receive it with the grace of a Kenyan runner.


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