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August 24, 2008
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A Past Olympic Hero

We hope you have all enjoyed your summer.  Other than a quick trip to speak with a wonderful group of families, including their children, in Dallas we have been with our family and friends.  The past two weeks we have LOVED watching the Olympics, as I am sure most of you have.  From the spectacle of the Opening Ceremony to the drama, joy and heartbreak of the amazing athletes we have loved the wonderful coverage.  I (Linda) even went to Arizona to take care of our daughter and son-in-law’s five children so they could go to the Olympics.  He speaks fluent Mandarin and they had an incredible experience! 

One of the things that impressed us most though was a special that the network did on a past Olympic champion as they told not only the story that most of us know but also "the rest of the story".  It was about the magnificent Olympian Eric Liddle, the great Scottish runner immortalized in the movie Chariots of Fire.  What an awe inspiring individual he was.  You may remember that he was a missionary to China….a Christian missionary like his parents….in fact he was born there and went back there after participating in the 1930 Olympics.  He refused to run on Sunday, and that was the day that the 100 and 200 dash were run, his two best events.  Even the king of England tried to talk him into running, but he said that while he loved his King, he loved The Heavenly King most and he could not go against the commandments of God regarding resting on the Sabbath Day.  Because he didn’t run, his teammate, Harold Abrahams of Oxford, (the Jewish student who ran around the Oxford quad faster than the clock tower there striking 12) won the 100 meter dash on Sunday.  Another teammate gave up his spot in the 400, which was not on a Sunday so that Eric could run.  Men who run the 100 and 200 meter races can’t generally run the 400 well because they burn out after the first burst of speed, and everyone believed it would be that way with Eric. 

To the surprise of no one, Eric dashed ahead and led after 200 meters.  Even though everyone expected him to fade, he just ran stronger on the last 200 and won the race.  His daughter was on this special, and when she was asked how he did it, she, an old woman now, said that he had told her as a little girl that he ran the first 200 and that God ran the last 200 for him.  He was an amazing individual.  He was the biggest hero in the British Isles, but instead of staying to bask in his glory, he returned to China (a two month boat trip in those days) to continue his work as a missionary and a school teacher.  He eventually was sent to a concentration camp with the Chinese when Japan invaded, and protected and taught the kids even in the concentration camp.  He said the most interesting thing about what he felt he needed to do to keep the children feeling secure even in such dire circumstances.  He said that he felt that the best thing he could do for their well being to give them a feeling of safety was to continue their traditions and rituals so they could have something to "plan on" even as atrocities and turmoil and persecution raged all around them.  He died in that concentration camp in 1945 of a brain tumor, still a relatively young man.  There is a monument to him there in China that they showed on this Olympic special.  Building memorials to foreigners is just not something China does–but they did for Eric Liddle!

In the end, this Olympic hero’s life is a monument that all current Olympians can hold as a magnificent standard.  The commentator ended by saying that many Olympians go to the games to "do great and to be great" and that Eric Liddle’s life was crafted to "be good and to do good"! 

We were both moved by this great story!  Not only is it a way to remember the deep levels of the Olympics but it reminds us of how important daily, monthly and yearly rituals and traditons are in our families as many are starting their new school year! 

Best wishes to our valuesparenting family,

Linda and Richard

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