Seven Olympic Values: Courage

Olympic sports are not for the faint hearted. When watching the gymnasts spring triple back flips off horizontal bars, I have half expected to see a “don’t try this at home” disclaimer across the screen. There is always a risk of injury in Olympic sports, and yet for Olympic champions like BMX rider Shanaze Reade, who apparently has had to have 32 pins after a past injury, there is still the competitive drive to hurtle full speed round the track.

Today’s Olympic Value is Courage. Wikipedia states, “Courage (is referred as “bravery, boldness, fearlessness, mettle, fortitude, or intrepidity) is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation” [1] It requires considerable bravery to be prepared to take physical risks in the drive to beat the elite of the elite. But noted too by the commentators was the amazing courage and bravery of tae kwon do fighter Sarah Stevenson, who lost both her parents in he space of 11 months, her mum to Cancer, but who showed the endurance and will to carry on competing at the highest level.

Courage, it seems to me, is the value of being ready to take risks – to dive into the unknown – to be prepared to throw yourself fully into the tasks that lie ahead even where there are no guarantees of success. As a Christian, I am reminded of God’s words to Joshua as he prepared to conquer the promised land – “be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” (Josh 1:6). Jesus also said to his disciples when they were afraid after seeing him walk on water “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matt 14:7)

All of us have times in our lives when risks need to be taken – when our ideals and dreams demand the fullest level of commitment. It is at those times, which will not be easy, when we can take to heart the encouragements from the Bible to keep going – as 1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”