Dramatic women's soccer win caps huge day for Canada at Tokyo Games

Canada runs on to the field after defeating Sweden in the penalty shoot-out in the women's soccer final during the summer Tokyo Olympics in Yokohama, Japan on Friday, August 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

The Olympic Games have once again captured our imagination.

The dedication of athletes who have devoted their lives to training for this one event is incredible, and it would be so easy to give in to cynicism. However, I am not cynical about the Olympics. I love them.

Even with empty stadiums, the thrill of competition is not diminished. There should be no political agenda, no team bribing or drug-taking — simply the glory of every athlete taking part is thrilling to watch.

This passion for sport is something I have always had, mainly more of a man-versus-nature sportsman, such as running, swimming and cycling, and it has never been easy for me to understand why other people don’t share my passion for athletics.

In particular, the 10,000 metres and the glorious marathon, from the moment I sat in my Ancient Classics class, in the old damp Victorian manor house school, and I heard about the original marathon.

The story, from BCE 490, hooked me, a running journey from Marathon to Athens and how the runner, Pheidippides, died of exhaustion after finishing 40 km. Having run half a dozen marathons, I know a little about the gruelling pain. Pheidippides ran with the news, good news, that against all odds, the Persians had been defeated and Greece was saved.

I was mesmerized by the story. I wondered, as an 11-year-old who always came last, how could a man run so far?

He ran to bring news that would have spread throughout the land. Information that would inspire poets and storytellers — no one expected this victory.

There are so many parallels between faith and sports; faith is something that looks forward, pushes on; you need courage, with groans and labours towards the finishing post.

The race of faith is not for the fast but for those who endure to the end.

This week I watched the debut of the mixed 4x400 meters relay race; Poland took the gold. The idea of a relay is something that we have forgotten in Sunday School lessons. We run so that others can benefit in some way.

When Jesus was on earth, he began the most beautiful relay. The Father sent him, he passed the baton to the apostles and now 2,000 years on, we are all called to keep passing on, run the race and bring the good news of Christ's love.

Our Christian experience is much like a relay race; we run and give our best and pass on to others the opportunity to know God’s Kingdom and to see many others use their talents for the good of our world.

Phil Collins is a pastor at Willow Park Church in Kelowna.