FIVE GREAT LESSONS FROM SOME RIO OLYMPIC ATHLETES
Dear brethren in Christ, after the two-week long Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, we have witnessed an international event offers us great inspiring lessons useful in our daily life as Catholics striving for holiness. We could learn from the following lessons and apply them in our everyday life.
- SHOW YOUR FAITH AND GRATITUDE TO GOD. DON’T BE ASHAMED OF DOING SOMETHING GOOD. GIVE HIM ALL THE GLORY.
- HARD WORK AND DILIGENCE, NOT ONLY OF THE ATHLETES BUT OF EVERYONE: THE ORGANIZERS, VOLUNTEERS, SECURITY, PERSONNEL…
1. SHOW YOUR FAITH AND GRATITUDE TO GOD. DON’T BE ASHAMED OF DOING SOMETHING GOOD. GIVE HIM ALL THE GLORY.
- The fastest man alive, winner of 9 Olympic medals (4 in Rio 2016) and 11 World titles, is unafraid of what people may think. A Catholic, Bolt is known for making the sign of the Cross before every race, proudly wears a Miraculous medal of Mary, and kneels down to pray and give thanks to God after winning his race, and
- The sensational Catholic swimmer from US, with 5 Olympic golds (4 in Rio), 9 World titles, and 13 world records, says “a prayer or two before any race. The Hail Mary is a beautiful prayer and I find that it calms me.”
- Not only that, after her 2012 Olympic triumph, she visited a convent to thank the nuns for their prayers. What is impressive is that Katie knows that there’s much more than swimming. In an interview she said:
“My Catholic faith is very important to me. It always has been and it always will be. It is part of who I am and I feel comfortable practicing my faith. It helps me put things in perspective.”
- The queen of Rio 2016 Olympic gymnastics, the bubbly 19-year old Biles, with 4 Olympic golds and 1 bronze, and 10 world titles in her possession, carries a Holy Rosary in her bag which was given to her by her mom, and which she normally prays. She also goes to Sunday Mass with her parents.
- A girl with a difficult childhood, having been abandoned by an alcoholic mother, and put to foster care, she was later adopted by her grandparents whom she now calls and considers as her Dad and Mom. She is a role model for today’s for her life is an example that it is possible to succeed in this life in spite of a difficult past.
- The Olympic and World Badminton champion, Carolina Marín,is a devotee of Our Lady, Virgen de Rocío (Morning Dew). She declared that she always brings the Virgen de Rocío wherever she goes. In fact, she wears a medal and earrings of Our Lady.
- The Georgian canoeist and the Filipina weightlifter thanked God and made the sign of the Cross after finishing their respective events.
- The US women’s 4x100m relay gold medalists had to defy the odds in order to win the event. They were disqualified from the finals after Felix was bumped by a Brazilian runner. After protesting to the organization, they were granted to re-run again to beat the time clocked by China.
- The team finally qualified and eventually won the gold, but without bowing their heads and saying a prayer of gratitude to God in front of the camera which was obscured by the Olympic seal.
- The first African-American woman to win a gold in a swimming event (100m freestyle) after rallying from behind the Canadian Penny Oleksiak, and breaking the Olympic record, said: “All I can say is all glory to God. … I’m just so blessed.”
- He was the 2012 Olympic gold medal winner and was the man to beat in the Rio 2016 horizontal bar. He started his routine in a fantastic manner, soaring to the heights until he lost his grip on the bar and fell flat on his face, remaining motionless for several seconds. A lot of people have thought that it was understandable for him to just quit.
- But the “Flying Dutchman” stood up, and with his temple, nose and cheeks bruised, and surely with his aching body, finished his routine, receiving a thunderous applause of the crowd.
- The US Gymnastics team was counting on him to improve their standing in the all-around team competition and have a place at the podium. Leyva, who was the 2015 World silver medalist in the event, after an incredible start, falls off and spoiled the chances of his team to win a medal, finishing 5th.
- It was a hard blow for Leyva but he didn’t give into discouragement: he didn’t enclose himself in a destructive attitude of self-blame.
- And here comes the individual competition, Leyva resurrects and ends his Rio 2016 stint, garnering 2 silver medals, one in parallel bars and the other…in horizontal bar.
- The 5,000m US runner, D’Agostino, the most decorated Ivy League athlete in track and field, got involved in a chain-reaction tumble with New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin. Instead of rushing to stand up and keep on running and recover the lost time and distance, she went to Hamblin, helping her up and urging her to keep on the race. They ran supporting each other in the next few meters with an almost 2-minute difference from the leader of the race.
- Hamblin completed the 5km race without any problem, whereas D’Agostino arrived the finish line with a lot of difficulty, showing signs of pain. Later one, she revealed that she suffered a meniscal and anterior cruciate ligament tears, showing her great spirit of resilience and self-conquest.
- With this show of true Olympic spirit, the organizing body rewarded them both a classification to the finals. Her kind gesture became viral and she explained later that: “Simple acts of kindness are recognised and people are drawn to them. It resonates with people. It’s cool to have something like that shine.” “Although my actions were instinctual at that moment, the only way I can and have rationalized it is that God prepared my heart to respond that way… This whole time here he’s made clear to me that my experience in Rio was going to be about more than my race performance — and as soon as Nikki got up I knew that was it.”
- D’Agostino didn’t win a medal, but won the a new friend, Hamblin, and the hearts of millions of people around the world. Her kind gesture will be remembered for many generations.
5. HARD WORK AND DILIGENCE, NOT ONLY OF THE ATHLETES BUT OF EVERYONE: THE ORGANIZERS, VOLUNTEERS, SECURITY, PERSONNEL…
- The 11,000 athletes who participated in the Rio Olympics, their managers, physiotherapists, all the organizers, volunteers and security officers, have worked hard to prepare, participate and celebrate this once-in-every-four-years worldwide sporting and entertainment event.
- A lot of hours of hidden sacrifice, hard work, effort -virtues- all of which are unknown to us, have been carried out by a multitude of people. To all of you, our gratitude and congratulations.
Dear brethren in Christ, these are just some of the lessons we can learn: I’m sure there are a lot more! Let us not forget that our earthly journey is a race towards heaven. During our life on earth, we need to strive hard, with the help of God’s grace and persevere till we reach our end.
Along this journey, we will have ups and downs, victories and defeats, but what is important is our faith in God, the courage to begin again and stand up in spite of our past mistakes, the obstacles and difficulties which life brings to us and with self-conquest aided by God’s grace, hard work and diligence, let us carry out good works, virtues, for love of God and our neighbor for ours is a race towards heaven. Let us run our race, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” pressing on “towards our heavenly goal” in order to obtain the imperishable “prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (Cf. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 3:12-14).
Thank you Rio de Janeiro Olympic athletes, personnel, organizers, volunteers…!
May God bless us all!
Fr. Rolly A., priest of Opus Dei.