Thought for the Week

SO THEY’RE over, the Olympic and Paralympic games are over and Team GB was amazing.

It was billed as the greatest show on earth and I admit I was sceptical. But I was very wrong, it was very much, the greatest show on earth. Time and time again I watched athletes switch off their watches or look at the results board then punch the air with delight as they realised they had achieved a personal best. They had reached the best they could be. These events united our nation more than anything before in peace time and the crowds warmed to participants from all over the world. In my book it was crowd participation as well as hard work that helped achieve these personal bests.

However, when it comes to sport I am biased. A few years ago a gangly loon burst on to the tennis stage. This young man was so delicate that if he stood in a draught he may have been blown over. But he used the talents he had and the gifts he was given and he worked hard and relentlessly in his pursuit of excellence.

When a puff of chalk lifted from the centre line to give Andy Murray the Olympic Championship I

was over the moon and I was so emotional I couldn’t even clap. What I can say is, quite literally, my heart was fit to burst.

Yes indeed, a young man who has strived to be the best he can be and the result in the American Championship last week is a testament to how determined he is and the self belief we can all attain.

Not long after the start of a long distance race in the Paralympics a young man injured his one good ankle and consequently his running speed was drastically reduced and he fell back in the field. Indeed, it didn’t take long before he was lapped. As the other runners overtook him he would have been forgiven for thinking...“I’m the only representative of my country at these games, I’m alone. All those years of training have been wasted because I’ve injured my ankle. I’m not only last but I have just been lapped.”

Yes of course he would be forgiven for feeling like this but that’s not how this story unfolded. Realising what was happening the 80,000 crowd started the cheer him on and with each circuit they became louder and as he crossed the finish line he was given a standing ovation. Yes, of course he was last and he was last by a long way but I can use the words ‘he was actually the winner’ without fear of contradiction. No one will ever convince me that sometimes it is just as sweet to come last as it is to come first, especially when you know you’ve done the best you can.

For some this race of life might be a marathon, for some it might be a sprint but for most it will be peppered with hurdles. The Lord will never judge you, regardless if you are last or first. I believe all he ever asks is we do the best we can.

The camera slowly zoomed in on a young man sitting on the grass with his back against the railings. He was absolutely exhausted and the logo on his team GB shirt moved so quickly as he gasped for breath. He had just finished his rowing race and he had come third.

John Inverdale from the BBC got down on one knee so he could conduct the interview at the same level. “How do you feel?” asked Inverdale. A grunt was all the young man could manage. “You’ve got the bronze medal.” Again a grunt was all he could produce. Then Inverdale, with a wry smile and leaning on the young man’s shoulder to help himself up said: “There’s a medal ceremony just starting over there, and you’re a part of it. Would you like a hand?”

For me at least this little ‘cameo’ shows so much of the very best in most of us and a message for all of us.

When everything is proving so demanding and every gasp for metaphorical breath is difficult beyond imagination and just at that time you can feel another weight on your shoulder; it is not someone trying to keep you down, they’re giving you a hand up. Be all you can be and I pray you have a peaceful and rewarding week.

Doug Blacklaws

Montrose Old and St Andrew’s Church