Olympic follies: The race that wasn’t run

It only comes but once every four years, the Olympics.  Relentless training and exceptional sacrifice boil down to a few minutes of intense competition; then, the worthy winners are lauded with much-coveted medals. The event should bring out the very best in us all, athletes and spectators alike.

For the Caribbean, the London Olympics stirred up regional pride in our athletes’ achievements.  

  • The standout Jamaican sprinters, led by showman Usain Bolt, left their overjoyed countrymen hoarse from shouting and screaming at their victories.  
  • Kirani James of Grenada snuck up on everyone with a gold medal in the 400 meters; 
  • Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago staged a surprise takeover of the gold medal in javelin, and his Trini relay teammates snagged the bronze medal in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays.  

So, it was “’nuff big-ups” to West Indian athletes in London over the last two weeks.

Well, to most of them.

St. Kitts and Nevis’s hopes of receiving any medal-love were dashed when it was announced on August 4 that Kim Collins, our premier sprinter and former 100-meter world champion, had had his accreditation for the 100 meter heats revoked by the country’s National Olympic Committee for breaking the rules.  

Just days prior to that, our only female team member, Tameka Williams, was sent home after admitting to having used a stimulant to enhance her performance, which could have led to an Olympics drug violation.

Our Land of Beauty was looking pretty ugly.

It grieved me sorely to see my country take a public relations beating in this Olympics “reality show” when other Caribbean countries were shining.  The noble goals of sportsmanship and excellence that the Olympics espouse were, in our case, thwarted by much “he said/he said,” pride, and an ironic and unfortunate reversal of our twin-islands’ motto, “Country Above Self.”

In my quiet time, I pondered a spiritual tie-in to all of this Olympics brouhaha.  The apostle Paul once again came to the rescue.

Paul often likens the Christian life to a race that is to be run well, encouraging us to stay spiritually fit, prepared, and engaged, with our eyes on the prize:  eternal life.  In Hebrews 12:1, he encourages us to sharpen our spiritual focus, recognizing the “eyes” that are upon us:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

The same applies in the natural world.  St. Kitts and Nevis didn’t run the race well at the Olympics.  Heck, we didn’t even come close to winning any prize!  We were, however, hamstrung and tripped up in front of “a great cloud of witnesses” worldwide.  

Alas, O Land of Beauty!

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