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An Olympic Lesson
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Photo: Matthias Schimmelpfennig
"And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" (2 Kings 6:17).

Atlanta, July 23, 1996: Never before in 100 years of Olympic games had the U.S. women’s gymnastic team been so close to Olympic gold. They trailed Russia by only a few tenths of a point. Tension mounted. The pressure was on 17-year-old Kerri Strugs, the last gymnast to vault. She had two tries—her higher score would count. If high enough the U.S. would win; if not, Russia would take the coveted prize. Kerri’s first attempt was a dismal failure. She didn’t complete the final revolution and fell backward on the mat. But the strike against her was worse than merely the psychological pain of failure in front of millions. When she fell, she badly sprained her ankle. Close-up camera shots caught the wince of pain on her face as she limped off the mat. She had one more try, but it was obvious to everyone watching that the U.S. was doomed. How could Kerri complete with a sprained ankle? Russia would win by default.

But the competition was not yet over. Limping into position, Kerri readied herself for what she knew she had to do. She had one more chance to win, and she was going to take it.

In disbelief I watched the telecast as Kerri sprinted down the mat, vaulted into the air, and executed a perfect landing on one foot! Then falling on the mat she gripped her ankle as sharp pains riveted through her body. But her courage, determination, and skill had secured the 1996 gold medal for the United States team.

I wonder if Kerri hadn’t thought she’d make it if she would have gone through the pain. If she didn’t have the driving dream to hope for the gold, would she have tried that second vault?

Perception Makes a Difference

I’ve thought a lot about what it takes to succeed in life when you have a strike or two against you, as Kerri had, and I’ve concluded that it’s your perception that makes the difference.

If you believe that everything is against you, like Elisha’s servant did when he saw the enemy surrounding the city, then you’ll give up. But if you see life through the eyes of positive expectation, you’ll have the courage to fight on! Kerri believed she could do it. And that made all the difference.

Open my eyes that I may see life from Your perspective, where nothing is impossible.

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By Kay Kuzma. Excerpted from Fit Forever, compiled by Kay Kuzma, copyright © 2005 by Review & Herald Publishing. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.


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