The Olympics have just finished, familiar with names you may have heard this year include: Kaylee McKeown (Gold swimming 100m & 200m backstroke, medley relay, freestyle relay), Arianne Titmus (Gold swimming 400m, 200m), Keegan Palmer (Gold skateboarding), Logan Martin (Gold BMX Freestyle) or Nicola McDermott (Silver high jump).
These athletes helped Australia reach an incredible 46 medals in total, including 17 gold. However, there are a few names scrubbed from the Olympic records this year, unable to have had the chance to compete for podium contention.
Only a step away
For so many athletes the dream of competing for their country on the world stage for the glory of gold begins in infancy. So many athletes long for the day to pull on their national colours and present their country with pride. Competing against the best of the best begins in childhood and is a dream achieved for a select few each Olympics.
The Olympics, only being every four years is one of the biggest sporting events in the globe where this year a total of; 11, 091 athletes from 206 countries competed in 41 different sports and 339 events during the 2 weeks in Tokyo.
For some, however; the chance to compete was cut short before its time. Athletes including; Great Britain's Zarnell Hughes and Reece Prescod, Canadian’s Pamela Ware, and Australia’s Jamie Kermond found their finals chances dashed.
Hughes – 100m Sprint
Zarhnell Hughes of Great Britain was one of the most notable ‘failures’ during this year’s Olympics. His medal hopes were cut short as he broke before the starter’s gun in the final of the men’s 100m sprint. One of the most-watched events of the Olympics track & field.
Hughes had made it into the final, executing skill and precision to beat rivals and enter the final as the winner of his semi-final heat. Unfortunately, he broke before the starter's gun; disqualifying him from the race. Gone are the days of second chances in sprinting; one false start and disqualified (DQ).
Prescod – 100m Sprint
Similarly, but by no means related, Great Britain hopeful Reece Prescod; who shot to international status in 2018 running 9.96s at the European championships, also broke early with a false start. Prescod was DQ after breaking too early in his heat for the 100m sprint. A talented athlete, years of training, experience, and medals vanished in a split second of his 100m sprint heat.
Ware – Diving
Sprinting was not the only sport to have disappointments. In women’s diving, Canadian Pamela Ware, one of Canada’s best divers, Olympic debut was short-lived. In the 3m springboard final she failed to dive. Landing feet-first the judges scored her 0.0, ruling her out of her next 3 dives. She seemingly ‘froze’ mid-air and entered the water feet-first, rendering her chances of any podium finish untouchable.
Kermond – Equestrian
On and off the competition field athlete’s actions rendered them in shape, or disqualified, as was the case for Australian Equestrian show-jumper Jamie Kermond. Kermond was DQ two days before competition after routine drug tests found traces of cocaine in his system. "I am extremely upset and remorseful as to what has happened and I accept full responsibility.”
The trace of this party drug, which Kermond assured had no reflection on his sporting competition, impacted not only him but his teammate's chances at medal contention. "I am truly sorry as I have let a lot of people down including my family and teammates.”
A little close to home
Reflection on these athlete's performances may hold judgment; it’s easy to see the break before the starter’s gun on the replay of the sprints. It’s hard to fathom an elite athlete freezing up in the final of an event they have trained for years to compete in.
Questions of ‘why’ may exist when contrasting the presence of a party drug in an Olympic athlete preparing to compete on the international stage.
Looking at our own lives though, how often have we ‘failed’ at something. It may not be the world stage; but maybe a temptation we gave in to, maybe rage that overtook us in the heat of the moment, or an outburst – the result of which hurt someone we love.
Sin, in my definition, is simply something that takes us away from God’s presence, something, in my mind, that is the ‘gold medal’ prize of humanity. To be in the presence of God, His fullness, completeness, and love are richer than any medal (Psalm 27:4). The Bible tells us though, that only those with pure hearts and hands may enter the mountain of God (Psalm 24:4). That would mean anyone without this, even for an instant would receive a DQ from the gates of Heaven.
The best gold medal
Unlike these Olympians, we have another chance, again and again, with a free gift. The gift is a new life that QUALIFIES us into God’s presence through the Spirit of God. Rather than an act that disqualifies us, Jesus, by dying on the cross removed our record of sin forever. He explained this in John
“God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. …What I am telling you so earnestly is this: Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:16-17).
This gift, is simply that, a gift that is given cannot be earned.
“Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done. It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:9-10).
There is now no longer a DQ rule for those who belong to Christ and call on his name (Romans 10:9). He changed the rule book, and rather than taking away the chance at our eternal prize, came through, picked up the ‘average Joe’ including you and I, and handed us what I believe to be the best medal of all – Relationship with God.
Kelly Thompson is the newest member of the Sports journalist team. Kelly currently plays AFL for Casey Demons in the VFLW, and practices what she preaches as a HOPE (Health, Outdoor, and Physical Education) Teacher in Melbourne’s southeast.