When athletes step up on the podium and a gold medal is draped around their necks, I can’t help but wonder — what is behind that one moment of glory?
When I watch a competitor twist and turn in midair and land right side up, I pause and ask, “What didn’t I see that led up to this?”
All of the Olympians were inspirational, but the women’s pairs cross country skiing really grabbed me. This event is called “the most grueling sport in the winter games.” I watched Jessica Diggins and Kikkan Randall gut it out on the course and I thought, “That looks horrific. That looks painful. Why would anyone want to do that?” And then, “What did they have to do to get here?”
Kikkan Randall skied in her first Olympics in 2006 and came in 44th.
In 2010, she finished in the top 10.
Four years later she missed a medal by five one hundredths of a second.
She had a baby in 2016, but kept training.
As the only mom on the USA Olympic team this year, she won gold.
Back in 2006, she told her coaches and trainers she wanted a medal. They told her it would take 10 years of intense training. Ten years. Kikkan said, “I’m all in.”
It took twelve.
Would I stick to something that demanding for that long?
Six days a week, twice a day, for twelve years, these are the things we didn’t see:
- Core training — exercises from the pull-up bar. Oh, and with a 45 lb. weight chained to her waist. Ten reps of bringing her knees to her chest, 10 reps of bringing her toes to her hands, 10 reps of swinging her legs back and forth like a windshield wiper. Over and over. Add various squats with a weighted bar.
- Endurance training — Roller skiing uphill for an hour.
- Interval training — Ten minutes of roller skating at racing pace followed by three minutes at a slower pace. Repeat for two hours straight.
- Speed training — Pushing the limits every day. “On a scale of 1-10, where 10 is dying or passing out, I rate a 9 fairly often.”
- Strength training — Lifting weights for 1.5 hours.
She follows a very controlled diet and sleeps for 10 hours every night. Olympic athletes endure all that for one event, on one day, every four years.
Would I find that much dedication within me?
Champions are made in the things we don’t see.
The daily workouts, the daily reps, the daily pull ups.
Life is built on the dailies.
Even for us average, unathletic, non-YouTube worthy people (speaking for myself here) who will never stand on an Olympic podium, life is made up of unseen, unheralded and seemingly unimportant dailies.
As a child of God, the questions remain:
Can I stick to something as demanding as consistently living for Christ?
Do I have enough dedication to take my faith seriously every day?
Are my daily reps helping or hurting my spiritual life?
Of course, it’s more than a gold medal or a place in a record book that motivates us. As Paul said, “For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and motivates us, because we are absolutely convinced that he has given his life for all of us.” 2 Cor. 5:14.
there will be gold crowns (Rev. 4:4)
for those whose names are written
in the record Book of Life (Rev. 20:12).
Instead of raising our arms in victory
on a podium
while the national anthem is played,
we will be on our faces in worship
at the throne of God
while angels sing, “Holy, holy, holy.”