What can we learn from Olympic dreams…
All Sri Lankans would have shared the joy of watching Niluka
Karunaratne qualify for Olympics, beating out competition.
Since Susanthika’s momentous victory, we have not pursued the Olympic
dream with the kind of fervour and commitment due. Yet with Niluka’s
achievement, we can be well within the grasp of an Olympic victory. Yet,
the question we need to ask ourselves is what can we learn personally
from someone who prepares for such a huge and competitive world event,
knowing that the best of the best are there for you to compete against
In personal life, we often face the kind of circumstances that calls
us to go beyond what we are usually capable of. Just as much as an
Olympic athlete is expected to train years ahead of the games, in
pursuit of excellence, so are we sometimes called to be ready for a
greater call. Sometimes we are required to be ready in advance for such
a call which may not happen overnight.
The Olympics require nothing less than the best. Mediocre performance
is not accepted nor will it be tolerated. The Olympians understand that
and are committed to making sure that they perform at their very best.
Throughout history, winning Olympians have been recognized as the
world’s most talented sportsmen and women who have left a legacy of
glory in victory.
Quest for excellence
Life is sometimes very much like an Olympian race in which you have
to do nothing less than your very best. What is expected of you is the
kind of strength of character you did not know you had. It calls for a
new strategy, a new high that may push you to your limits but in the
end, enables you to soar higher than ever before.
Whether we win at Olympics or not, the quest for excellence is
something we should strive to achieve all our lives. Whether it is in
personal goals or carrier goals, those individual who strives for the
best performance will always be the top achiever, those who can go for
the kind of glory all human beings are capable of but a few would only
dare to reach.
The famous film Chariots of Fire, an Academy Award favourite and
classified as one of those most memorable, all time greats in the movie
world, depicts one such endeavour of the committed Olympic athlete Eric
Liddell, missionary to China, a man whose convictions and commitment saw
him strike Gold at the 1924 Paris Olympics. Liddell, a devout Christian,
did not want to take part in his 100 metre event due to be held on a
Sunday, a day considered holy by Christians. Liddell instead trained for
the 400 metre dash which wasn’t his favourite but astounded everyone by
winning the race ahead of favourites, the US team. Such was his power of
conviction and commitment to what he believed in.
Today, Liddell is remembered as a true hero as the London Olympics
are in full swing - he is widely recognized and honoured by China, his
adopted homeland where he was a hero. In fact, China considers him her
first Olympic Gold winner.
Liddell ended up in a prison camp during the Japanese invasion of
China but refused to be released when he was offered freedom when the
British government intervened. Instead, he offered his place of freedom
to a pregnant Chinese woman - Eric Liddell died in the camp, a true hero
and a much loved man of God who upheld his faith and convictions until
the very end.
Liddell’s Olympic glory, among his many other athletic achievements,
is beautifully told in the movie Chariots of Fire, which features the
award winning musical score of Vangelis. There are lessons from Liddell
and other Olympic greats who can teach us lesser mortals a lesson or two
of achieving what we are capable of, not what we think we can.
Life is a challenge that must be lived to the maximum, beyond a mere
mediocre performance that belittles the human capacity and capability in
achieving outstanding results. It is within the reach of each of us - we
only have to reach out and grab it and make it happen.