Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

An Olympic life lesson

rio2016SOME PEOPLE MAY wonder why it takes athletes four years to get ready for the Olympics. After all, an hour or so of watching one of the competitions and most of us feel we have earned our Armchair Coach Certification.

As I have been following the contests in Rio, though, I’ve been reminded that there’s often more going on than meets the eye—and picked up some helpful life lessons. Take the 150-mile cycling road races on opening weekend; I discovered that you don’t just put your head down and pedal hard.

Here’s my gold, silver, and bronze takeaways from that contest.

Forget the others. As the men’s field set off from Copacabana Beach, the camera panned from starters at the front of the pack to a couple of guys stuck at the back of the line. Good for them, I thought. No-hopers, and yet they are giving it their best shot, proud to represent their countries. That’s the Olympic spirit!

Then one of the commentators mentioned that one of the “lag-behind” pair was the odds-on favorite to win the race. He was happily taking his time with his teammate pacemaker because he knew there were six-and-a-half hours to go, and there was plenty of time for him to advance through the pack…

Gold guideline: Maybe I should spend less time looking around at what everyone else is doing, and concentrate on my own ride.

Ignore the differences. As the riders made their way around their first circuit, some could be seen chatting with cyclists from other nations alongside them. I’m no lip-reader, so they could have been trash-talking. But from the looks on their faces, I suspect they were taking a pause to share a unique moment in their lives. I think I even saw a water bottle change hands.

Silver suggestion: Maybe I should remember that, even when I’m contesting something with someone else, they don’t need to be my enemy. I can treat them with kindness and care while still doing my best.

Remember the basics. Both the men’s and women’s races saw heavy falls on the downhill portions, with favorites crashing out while in the lead. Excellence and determination and daring are admirable, but they don’t negate the need to keeping doing the simple things right—such as avoiding big curbs.

Bronze boundary: No matter how sophisticated and skilled I may think I have become at something, I can’t afford to lose sight of the fundamentals. I must keep my eye out for the rudimentary things that may take me down.

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