An Unforgettable Olympic Moment

It’s an unforgettable Olympic moment.

At the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Great Britain’s Derek Redmond had advanced to the 400 meter semi-final. It had been four long years since an Achilles injury forced a last minute pull out from his heat at the Seoul Olympics. He endured multiple operations in his recovery and battled back to be part of the 1991 World Champion 4×400 team. But, after logging the fastest time in the first round and winning his quarter-final heat, this Olympics seemed like his moment.

The starter’s pistol went off and Redmond started strong but 250 yards from the finish…agony. His hamstring had torn. Redmond initially went down but somehow stood and began to limp toward the finish. His face expressed both the physical and emotional pain of the moment, but he kept hobbling forward.

Adding to the unfolding drama, Redmond’s father Jim jumped onto the track and pushed past security to get to his son’s side. Derek clung to his dad’s shoulder for support and they continued step-by-step together toward the finish.

Though the race was long over for all the other competitors, Redmond’s courageous perseverance captured the attention of the entire stadium. The crowd of 65,000 was on its feet cheering as Derek Redmond crossed the finish line in agonizing pain. Long-time Olympic commentator Brian Williams was nearly speechless and summarized the moment with the words, “That is the Olympic spirit.”

Without a doubt, Derek Redmond’s story beautifully illustrates the ideals of the Olympics. But, this story is also a powerful metaphor that brings four challenges to the Church. Let me illustrate:

1. Training

Redmond’s years of disciplined training parallel Paul’s call to ‘train yourself to be godly’ (1Timothy 4:7). What would happen if we took an Olympic mindset to spiritual training?

2. Perseverance

In the midst of great adversity, Redmond persevered. This reminds of us of Paul’s call to “…press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward…” (Philippians 3:14). May this be our example – especially in the face of suffering.

3. Love

By coming to his son’s aid, Jim Redmond powerfully illustrated a father’s love. At her best, the Church rejects the comfort and safety of being a spectator and radically demonstrates our heavenly Father’s love with grace and truth.

4. Encouragement

Each spectator in the cheering crowd of 65,000 was ‘for’ Derek Redmond. As a Church we are called to be ‘for’ one another and ‘for’ the burdened, the brokenhearted and the challenged.

Christ has called us to train, persevere, love, and encourage. That’s the spirit of the Church. What a high calling!

To The Point,
Dr. Steve Brown
President, Arrow Canada