The Olympics will soon come to a close. The flame will be extinguished and athletes across their world will set their sights on the next opportunity to fight for the gold. Training begins immediately. While many athletes are going home with new record times and shiny medals, even more will go home with the honor of being an Olympian but no prize in hand. No matter the outcome for these Olympians, we have seen many of them paint a picture for us of what it looks like to win and lose with grace.

Winning and losing is a team sport.
Norway’s Attacking Vikings have been taking the Olympic games by storm, dominating in many events. Alpine skiing saw them claim a gold and silver these games. While alpine skiing is not a team sport, these men draw on their history and their camaraderie to win together. While each man skis on his own, they push each other to be the best every day and by helping each other, every one benefits. (http://bit.ly/2EHJMVw)

Losing makes you push harder next time.
In the luge team relay, Team USA performed well but managed to just miss the podium in a narrow, disappointing loss. Silver luge medalist, Chris Mazdzer, commented on behalf of his team: “It’s a tough pill to swallow. But we’re going to fight. We’re going to come back next time even better.” For these athletes, missing the podium will motivate them to work even harder for the next Olympic games. (http://bit.ly/2ooapaX)

Losing reminds us to focus more on improving ourselves than watching everyone else.
USA Olympic speed skater Maame Biney swept the world away with her contagious laugh and smile in the Opening Ceremonies. At just 18 years of age, she was a favorite to win a medal in Women’s Short Track. But her games did not go as planned. As she pushed into a fast start, she was bumped by another skater on the track and never regained her momentum. While her event ended in tears, Maame says she learned a lesson and is ready for her next Winter Games. In an interview following the race, Maame said, “I’ve learned that I just can’t afford to underestimate anyone, and I just have to go out there and do my best.” (http://wapo.st/2CaWjDb)

Scripture often compares the Christian life to a race (Hebrews 12:1). It seems appropriate then to learn from the discipline, drive, and teamwork of those who physically race and race to win. As the Olympics draw to a close, may we follow the athletic example of many of these athletes as they focus on the prize, and may we as believers fix our eyes on the ultimate prize – Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).