[notice]A monthly Christian sport column by Cobus Kruger, a professional triathlete who is passionate about evangelism, leadership and community development through sport.[/notice]
It’s three weeks since the exciting triathlon race at the Grand Final of the Triathlon World Series 2016 or simply called the World Champs in the triathlon world. You may know about our Olympic bronze medallist, Henri Schoeman, by now. He won the World Series race and is the 2016 World Champ. But let me explain how the race played out:
It was extremely warm weather in Mexico, so the swim was a non-wetsuit race and it was fast. About eight athletes broke away from the rest of the group and were the first out of the swim and onto the bike. They managed to stay ahead of the second pack of cyclists until the end of the cycling leg.
So the excitement was pressed into the run. The two Brownlee brothers and Henri Schoeman (the three medallists of this year’s Olympics Games) took the lead immediately out of the bike transition and into the run leg. They stayed together ahead of the rest of the field for about three quarters of the running leg until Jonathan Brownlee made a move and created a gap of 50m between him and Alistair Brownlee and Henri Schoeman who were still running together. It looked like Jonathan had the race in the bag until 200m before the finish line. The race played out quite differently than what was expected.
Here is what happened
Jonathan started to falter and collapsed about 200m before the finish line. A marshal started to assist him. Henri and Alistair came around the corner for a sprint out for silver and bronze when Alistair saw Jonathan and realised that his brother was in trouble. He ran to his brother, took hold of him and ran with him to the finish line. Henri, on the other hand, looked around and seemed unsure of what was happening at that stage. He then pressed on to win the race becoming the 2016 World Champ with Jonathan second and Alistair third. What a dramatic finish for the last World Series race in this Olympic year of 2016!
There were so many emotions and opinions around the final few metres of this race that I don’t want to go into in this writing. I just want to use the race as an example to explain the following scripture: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
What physical and spiritual lessons can we learn from this race?
All these athletes trained specifically for this year’s Olympic Games and the Grand Final race and they all trained in such a way as to win the prize. Jonathan pushed hard, breaking away from Henri and Alistair in order to win the race, but something went wrong. He didn’t pace himself properly and pushed too hard, too soon. It could have been that in the heat of the day his nutrition or water intake was not good enough, but whatever the problem was, he didn’t manage to go all the way and win the prize.
In the same way we should train and prepare ourselves for what God called us to do. We should go out and take on the heat and stand up where God called us to stand up, but at the end we should make sure that we stay in the race and are not disqualified for the prize at the end.
We should stay focused on the head of the Church, the cornerstone of the church, Jesus at all times as we run the race. We should let His presence and the Living Word, Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, drive us day by day so that we won’t be disqualified and so that we can win the prize.
The way we handle people, how we love each other and run our daily race should be through Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit – if we do that then we won’t be disqualified and we will win the prize. I want to encourage you: let’s keep pressing into God’s presence and His will day by day and start to become who God intended us to be on this earth — sons and daughters of God, winners in the Truth and in the eyes of our Loving Father.