The 2012 Olympics are behind us—done and dusted, so to speak. Each of us is left with our own favourite memories of the great games. If you are a South African, one of those will probably be Chad le Clos narrowly beating the almost invincible Michael Phelps. Other names heading the ‘greatest moments’ lists will likely include Bolt, Zonderland, Murray and Pearson.
As wonderful as it was to witness and celebrate these great triumphs, there is one particular Olympic moment that goes beyond a celebration, to become an inspiration. The fact that it was a fellow African who gave rise to it is, for me, an added bonus.
It happened on the 9th of August and has been called “The Greatest 800 Meter Race Ever.” Little wonder. David Rudisha, the 23 year old Kenyan runner, set a new Olympic and world record and—with a time of 1 minute, 40.91 seconds—became the only runner to have ever broken the 1:41 barrier for 800m.
Yes, David Rudisha won gold in spectacular style that evening, but to understand what made this victory truly remarkable, we need to look at the runners behind him. In the race, one man came in under 1:41, two men under 1:42, five under 1:43 and all eight under 1:44 (IAAF). Besides the new Olympic and world records, the race led to a string of other records: one national junior record; three national records; and a world junior record. It was the first time in 800m history that every competitor ran either a personal or season’s best.
For me, David Rudisha’s greatest accomplishment that night was that he inspired greatness in others.
Every life has God’s creative fingerprints on it. Every person has been given a gifting, a greatness, something that makes them unique and special. It is in finding, developing and expressing that greatness, that—like Rudisha—we can inspire others to rise to their own full potential.
Fear holds us back from doing this: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” (Marianne Williamson)
It takes courage to face those fears (of failure and rejection amongst others), but there is more than our own future at stake. Williamson continues: “…as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Another great runner once said: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” (Eric Liddel, Chariots of Fire)
Our challenge is to find this pleasure in our lives and follow it as courageously as we can. And in becoming all God intends for us to be, we will inspire others to do the same.
Image from FreeDigitalPhotos