Mark Tronson has been reflecting over the past twelve months on Olympic ministry, and in particular of an US athlete who is a house hold name in that country, as he had the privilege of spending 40 minutes with Olympian of the Century, Carl Lewis in 2009.
The occasion was the annual awards ceremony of Lay Witnesses for Christ, which specialises in sports ministry to high school students, college athletes and Olympians. Carl Lewis is a 'Lay Witnesses for Christ' foundation board member and has supported this ministry untiringly.
Dr Sam Mings, the founder and president, has ministered at every Summer Olympics since Los Angeles 1984, London will be their eighth Olympiad in ministry.
After the Awards function, held at the Dallas-Fort Worth Marriott ballroom (where 700 people attended) official guests were invited to a private function in 'Room 1915', and it was here that Carl Lewis and Mark Tronson found a quiet corner for 40 minutes.
"It was a very humbling experience to speak with Carl Lewis. Not only did he make himself available after the Awards to have his photograph taken with those requesting it, but also in his formal speech at the Awards he challenged the audience to think of the economic situation as a realignment to Christian values," Mark Tronson noted.
Together they sat in Room 1915, Carl Lewis willingly complied with the wishes of those around him, he filed along to the after-dinner delicacy choices with the other guests, he sat where he was assigned and generously gave of himself in conversation and in sharing anecdotes with others.
Carl Lewis and Mark Tronson have another link through the Olympic movement. Mark Tronson is a consultant to Olympic host cities on 'Religious Services' and, just prior to the awards in Texas, had been meeting with personnel from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Committee 'Villages' about their forthcoming protocols, twelve months out from the recent Winter Olympics.
"It was fairly late in the evening by the time we got together," Mark Tronson reminisced. "Nonetheless, when we initiated our conversation, which touched on the philosophical, and it became obvious that Carl Lewis has found himself in a situation not of his own making, but of the celebrity status enforced upon many in the US culture.
"This places a significant burden upon all celebrity type figures in that country, more so than say in Australia, where there are only 20 million and everybody knows someone you now, or you went to school with someone in the public eye. It is a totally different situation in the US.
"Carl Lewis handles this with considerable care as he is thoughtful as to what he lends his name to, he is cautious when making public appearances and has found the tedious nature of being polite 'twenty four, seven' not as tiresome as some have."
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html