London Olympics 100 metre final: Usain Bolt, Jamaica (1st). Rohan Blake, Jamaica (2nd). Tyson Gay, USA (3rd).
Then another result at a different time — the World Athletics Championships highlight was undoubtedly the blue ribbon track and field event — the 100 metres sprint. Jamaica's Usain Bolt took the gold with a world record of 9.58 seconds. The silver medal went to the USA's Tyson Gay, 9.71 seconds, and the bronze medal to Jamaican Asafa Powell, 9.84 seconds.
All these three sprinters ran their personal best times. Tyson Gay's time was a US 100 metre record. Never in the history of American sprinting has any US athlete run faster in the 100 metre sprint than Tyson Gay did, to win this silver medal behind Bolt.
Tyson Gay's time astonishingly beat all the great US sprinters times: Jesse Owens in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Bob Morrow in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Bob Hayes in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Jim Hines in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, Carl Lewis in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and even Maurice Greene in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Moreover, there are many of US sprinters who are not on that illustrious list who have nevertheless run world record 100 metre times at various international meets. Some that come to mind are: Calvin Smith, Leroy Burrell, Tim Montgomery, and Justin Gatlin whose 9.77 was the previous best time by a US sprinter, run in Qatar on 12 May 2006.
Yet Tyson Gay's 9.71 silver medal sprint in the 2009 Berlin World Athletic Championships was faster than any previous American. If anything it illustrates again how remarkable was Usain Bolt's winning sprint of 9.58 seconds.
As I considered this long list of champion 100 metre sprinters it became evident that some were committed born-again Christians and some were not.
As strange as it might seem it is Jesus Christ who had something very significant to say about sprinting world records.
Jesus said (the Sermon on the Mount) in Matthew chapter 5, verse 45 “…for He makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
In other words, it's a level playing field, taking into account natural talent, training methods, high-tech sprint spikes and an insightful coach. It is God who gives to sprinters such ability, their training possibilities and their mentors.
I'm reminded of the lad who saw a boxer cross himself and enquired of his dad whether that would help. His father wisely replied, “Not if he can't box!”
Those who imply that being a born-again Christian is like taking a magic pill are completely wrong-headed. Such a view fails to see that God is good to all. Being born-again brings a person into a personal relationship with Jesus and allows the person to give thanks freely in all areas of life.
The salvation of Christ brings with it a fresh paradigm, a new world view, with this world view comes a sense of relief that it's no longer your efforts that brings divine approval but what Christ has done for each person through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
There is a reality that brings an inner peace of heart which may in some situations allow a relaxed disposition but whether this contributes to success is contentious. Some top performers (sport, corporate world, banking, the sciences, the arts …) function better on pressure and intensity and come out on top.
Whether a sprinter recognises it or not, sprinters are able to run fast because of God's grace. Moreover whether we recognise it or not — all the blessings we experience are because of God's grace.
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 mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html