Competing to Win
Growing up I loved to compete. Whether it was sport, board games or in academics at school, I relished the thought of coming first. This is often the thought of many of us. Those that finish first get the best prize and all of the glory that comes with being ‘the best’. There are many famous stories of people who have even gone to the lengths of cheating in order to simply win. However, as a teenager, my perception of winning was soon to be challenged.
It was the 19th September 2000, and the school holidays were in full swing. My family and I were seated in the lounge room watching the Olympic swimming competition. It was the heats of the 100m freestyle and a young 22 year old man named Eric Moussambani from Equatorial Guinea was competing in his first games. Stepping up to the blocks with Nigeria’s Karin Bare and Tajikistan’s Farkhod Oripov for company, his fellow competitors were disqualified for making false starts and Eric suddenly found himself racing all alone in the entire pool. What happened next has gone down in Olympic history as one of those events where people ask ‘where were you when...’?
Eric, barely struggled to swim the distance, and finished in a staggeringly slow time of 1 minute and 52 seconds. You see, Eric had never had formal swimming lessons, arrived at the games without any proper swimming gear and had never before competed in international competition. Recalling the event Eric states that “I knew that the whole world was watching me: my family, my country, my mother, my sister and my friends. That’s why I was telling myself that I had to keep going, that I had to finish, even if I was alone in the pool. I wasn’t worried about the time. All I wanted to do was finish.” 1
Life itself is often referred to as a race. We compete to the top of the class, to win the heart of that boy or girl, for that job, to have a better car than our friends and neighbours and to have the larger house. Sadly, the more we chase the prize, the more unhappy we become with what we have.
So I ask you this question, why do you run? The Bible suggests that the finishing position does not matter. Rather, it is about the prize on offer, and about how we run. 2 Timothy 4:7,8 puts it best “This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return.”
May we run our daily race with our eyes firmly on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and then the other earthly prizes will lose their appeal.
Mr Darren Martin
Deputy Principal Secondary