At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics his rowing team won gold, a feat they repeated in 1996 in Atlanta (the team became known as the ''Oarsome Foursome''). He then won gold again in 2004 in Athens, as a coxless pair with teammate Drew Ginn. He now shares the Australian record for competing in the most Olympic Games (six). He is also the only rower in the world to have ever won world titles in every sweep oar rowing event - pair, coxed pair, coxed four, four and eight. (www.smh.com.au)
Part of James Tomkins role as chairman of the Australian Olympic Committee's Athletes Commission is looking at whether Australia's sportsmen and women lead unbalanced lives, spending too much time in training and competition.
This is the first of the three test scorecard (unbalanced lives) that James Tomkins recently expressed to Gareth Hutchens of the Sydney Morning Herald.
The second, is the importance for athletes to have something else to do when they're not competing. James Tomkins noted that it makes for a better athlete for starters … "and it makes for a better person all round. And it makes you more employable and it gives you more direction afterwards. It's sort of a no brainer really.''
The third is family. This might include parents and siblings on the one hand, spouse and children to the other end of the spectrum. James Tomkins said that with family … it gives you absolute perspective, especially having children. Moreover, "At the end of the day (in my case) you're in a boat rowing down a river pretty much. 'You're not saving the world. So it puts things in perspective.''
These apply to us all
These three apply to us all. There is a balance that everyone needs in their lives and although in some sense we compartmentalise them, as work, leisure and family, in effect all three combine to provide us a balanced life.
A complete focus on work "makes Jack a dull boy" so the saying goes. There are replete examples of people within the corporate, business, entertainment, sport, trades, wherever, who devote their entire existences (as it were) to those activities and they eventually fall into a heap.
The old adage that no one asks about their work on their death bed is a truth worth bottling.
The second can also sometimes be overdone. The bumper sticker "I'd rather be sailing" might be humorous but it too expresses an unhealthy attitude. I recall in the early 1980's when as an industrial chaplain, I was asked by management to be on a work-place committee to help redirect the energies the work force has to their "outside work" activities (Sports Clubs, Scouts, Guides, Cultural Pursuits and the like) towards their attitudes to "on-site work".
The very people on the committee were on the whole, themselves busily involved with those very same "after work" activities, some in children's sport coaching roles as parents, to P&C committees, to this and that, and the like. These management types naturally had a greater emphasis on their careers.
The third is family. All of us are involved with family, whether fun loving and peaceful or relationships fraught with difficulties. In the end, family counts. It is said that no one will love you as much as your mother, and moreover when your parents are gone (passed on) the saying that, there is no one left who cares, is closer to the truth than many care to admit.
An even greater issue
One can still have all these three – work, leisure and family and still be very lonely and feel very much alone. The Christian message is clear about this. None of the above completely satisfy. The human soul has another yearning and that can only be filled with the Spirit of Christ.
This is what Jesus spoke of to Nicodemus in John 3 that one must be born again. He wasn't speaking about a physical birth, rather a very different kind of birth, a spiritual birth that fulfils the human heart where they meet their maker on a different unseen level.
It involves raw data such as repentance, recognising one is unable to be satisfied with the things we can see and touch and a personal decision to invite Jesus Christ to enter one's life as Lord beginning a fresh new existence with a whole different world view.
This is as real as the other things we cannot see such as loyalty, trust, love, compassion, fulfilment, ambition … all the intangibles of life.
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 atwww.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html