When a Bronze feels like Gold

The Olympics are over, and we're all adjusting to regular life again. As I watched the bronze match for men's tennis, one player wanted it more than the other. The favorite for the gold was in this match; he'd been defeated and now winning this match was his only chance at medaling at the Olympics, an honor that held so much weight. 

In some sports you play for the bronze - soccer, tennis, table tennis, basketball while in others it's automatically based on how you finished. The bronze match is, in essence, a tiebreaker with so much on the line.

Nothing was going this tennis player's way; he was being outplayed and outserved. In frustration, he threw his racket into the empty stands, and later, as the score progressively signaled his demise, he slammed his racket into the pole. He had given everything and walked away from these Olympics empty-handed. His disappointment was palpable. How did he go from being a shoo-in for the gold to playing for a bronze medal? 

Sports, like life, are complicated with no guaranteed outcomes. The athlete must give their competition their all. Unlike the empty-handed tennis player, these women were simply happy to medal.

Simone Biles became the inadvertent headline of the games when she was unable to compete. Winning a bronze medal in the balance beam after so much uncertainty meant the world to her.

This was Allison Felix's last chance for an individual medal at her last Olympics. At the end of the 400m, it looked like it was slipping away from her, but she held her form, pumping her arms, relaxing her fingers, and dipping at the right time, securing a bronze medal. She finished like the champion she is.

Raevyn Rodgers was not in medal contention in the homestretch of the 800m. But she has a gift and was able to run like the wind sneaking up on everyone to finish in third.

Megan Tapper, a Jamaican sprint hurdler, running in her first Olympics. She, too, maintained her form at the end of her race, the 100m hurdles. As the athletes looked up to the board to see their place, she urged her country to pray then rejoiced when she received confirmation of the bronze. She always dreamed of being an Olympic medalist; a bronze would do.

For Molly Seidel, this was only her third marathon. Molly Seidel says she had a little help from above to get her through the race; she kept repeating a prayer for difficult times during the last miles. She ran across the finish line smiling and claiming her bronze medal. 

Sifan Hassan attempted to do what had never been done before at the Olympics - medal in the 1500m, 5000m, and 10,000. During her preliminary heat of the 1500m, she fell. She immediately got up, sprinted from the back, and finished that race as the winner. In the final of the 1500m, she came in 3rd, a bronze medal. But she was on her way to doing what had never been done - two gold medals in the 5000m and 10,000m.

There were 402 bronze medals earned at the recent Olympics, and for these medalists, it may have felt like a gold medal. (Source: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/olympic-medal-count-tokyo-2020/)

So often, we feel overlooked and under-appreciated while we're in the race. But we all have to run our race for the prize at the end, the incorruptible prize. So we run with patience, we maintain our form, we pray, and we finish well, exceeding our greatest expectations where we'll hear well done.

Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:1,2 CSB

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but to all those who have loved His appearing. 2Timothy 4:7,8 CSB

Prayer - Dear Lord, life is hard. The race is long with unanticipated detours. The preparation threatens to wipe us out. But with your strength, we persevere. Through you, we increase our faith, and we press on, taking the next step, placing one foot in front of the other. Help us maintain our spiritual form, drawing closer to you each step of the way and meditating on your word. As your word courses through our veins, it gives us strength that renews us to do what you have called us to do - to run on and live pleasing to you, impacting this world because of what you have done for us. Help us, Lord, to finish strong because we know that with you, we will. Thank you, Lord, Amen.

Run on. A bronze medal can feel like a gold medal.

nylse-headshotNylse is a Christian wife and a mother of four who loves life and inspiring others. She likes to have fun but is very clear on who she is and Whose she is. A prolific thinker, she blogs to encourage others from a Christian perspective at www.lifenotesencouragement.com. She can be found online on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.