Sunday, July 08, 2012

The Greatest Athlete in the World (Nathan Wagner)

Tonight's entry is written by fellow WCS teacher/coach,Nathan Wager. Nathan fills in for me quite often and always has great things to say. Keep me in your prayers while I'm in Vietnam!

For many sports fans, an Olympic year is an exciting time as many athletes around the world try to perform their best for the opportunity to represent their countries and countrymen on the biggest stage.  As the United States prepares, this week the University of Oregon hosts the track and field trials to determine who will represent our country in the running and field events.  One event has been especially intriguing over the weekend--the men's decathalon.  Jim Thorpe, and most recently Bruce Jenner, have famously made it known that these athletes are the greatest in the world.  No one else can run, sprint, jump, and throw as well as they can. 

At these trials, a former Oregon athlete and world-class athlete (at the age of 24), Ashton Eaton has been a top American pick.  The decathlon lasts two days and includes 10 events (obviously).  For Eaton, yesterday was the final event--the 1500 meter run (just shy of a mile).  He had had quite a weekend, setting several records, and was on pace to break the trials and American record in the event.  There was also an outside chance that he could break the world record, but he would have to run a personal best in the 1500 after the previous nine events.

Anticipation built as spectators watched Eaton circle the track for 1500 meters.  He was in third (which wouldn't have impacted his standing in the decatholon) off the shoulder of Joe Detmer and about 20 meters behind the leader, Curtis Beach from Duke.  In the final 100 meters, Eaton passed Detmer (who didn't make a real effort to retake the lead) and sprinted for the finish line as the seconds, and his chance at a world-record, continued to slip by.  Recognizing the momentous occasion and opportunity for Eaton, Beach--who was well ahead and should have cleared the finish line first--actually dropped back and stepped to the outside lanes, turned around, and cheered Eaton on to the finish--a new world record!

The home crowd was ecstatic.  Dan O'Brian, the current American record-holder until that moment, ran over to give Eaton a hug.  Eaton was overwhlemed and in later interviews, speechless, humble, and happy.  What I loved most, though, and really took away were the attitudes of the two guys in front of him in the final 100 meters. While they had no shot at qualifying for the Olympics or winning the decathlon, they gave up the chance to win a race.  They recognized the hard work and dedication of a fellow athlete and let him enjoy the spotlight.  As top notch competitors, they stepped out of any potential spotlight and cheered on a brother.  It was fascinating.  It was heart-warming.

I couldn't help but think, when we function the way God intended, that is exactly the privilege we share with one another in the family of Christ.  A joy that I struggle to put into words! While Eaton deserves the title of World's Great Athlete, Curtis Beach won a big prize in another category. 

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

No comments: