The internationally acclaimed Kookaburra coach Ric Charlesworth recently lamented of those 1980 Kookaburras that for political reasons did not participate in the Moscow Olympics will never be accorded the accolade of being an Olympian. This, Charlesworth noted included not being invited to Olympic family dinners and functions.
In the 1976 Montreal Olympics the Australian hockey coach Merv Adams failed to put Stephen Marshall on the field of play for even a one-minute spell, even at the very end of any of the fixtures in any of their Olympic matches. Although the Australian hockey team won the Silver medal, Marshall was never a Silver medalist.
Marshall was presented a special trophy at a later function back home in Australia where there was much embarrassing acclaim of his character, but sadly, coach Adams' failure to recognise the seriousness of this anomaly, to even give him a few seconds of play, and this meant Marshall was not recognised as a Silver Medallist Olympian. (en.wikipedia.org)
The Olympic family is obviously a prised community. It holds a scared trust as given by the athletes oath at each Olympic opening ceremony.
There is one group of Olympians who have taken an additional step. These Olympians have aligned themselves with Christian evangelism and not only hold high the Olympic flag and its ring of colours, but have laid their own colours to the cause of Christ.
Another Olympic family within the Olympic family
They are participants with Dr Sam Mings the President and founder of Lay Witnesses for Christ who have participated in every Olympics since Los Angeles in 1984 in Christian evangelism, focusing on Olympians ministering to Olympians.
Dr Mings has recognised the nature of this Olympic family. Rather than seeing this as a closed shop (as it were), he has seen the vision whereby it becomes wonderfully positive, where Olympians not only link in to other Olympians but can also use this honoured celebrity to reach a much wider audience.
Consider these Olympians who have their colours showing for the cause of Christ through Lay Witnesses for Christ.
Carl Lewis, Olympian of the Century. Joe DeLoach, USA Olympic Gold Medalist. Richard Bucknor, Jamaican Olympian, Sarah Scherer USA Olympian, Johnny Lam Jones, USA Olympic Gold Medalist, Kevin Young, USA Olympic Gold Medalist, Mike Powell, USA Olympian, Angela Harris, Australian Olympian, Ellias Kataya, Zimbabwean, Gus Envela, Equatorial Guinea, Tony Jarrett, Great Britain Olympian.
Every community has its own membership whether it be those qualified in accountancy and other business fields, academic memberships, legal communities, entertainment guilds, the arts and these are all conditional on specific requirements of qualifications.
But the message that these Olympic athletes is that they are given over to the cause of Christ. They are part of an eternal membership list that is written in the Book of Life and there is only condition for membership – falling at the foot of the Cross in repentance and offering your life to Jesus for His cause.
Anyone in London are welcome to be part of these Bridging the Gap 2012 UK Outreach "Night of Champions" and "Evenings with the Stars" where such Olympians tell their own stories how they came to such momentous decisions to follow Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less.
For a list of venues and times see: www.laywitnesses.com/olympic-outreach/london-events
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