The Olympics are now over, and life will most likely return to normal for the people of Rio. However, I wonder what is normal now for Usain Bolt? The word most often used to describe Usain Bolt was ‘immortal’. After his victory in the 100 metre sprint, he said: ‘Someone said I can become immortal. Two more medals to go and I can sign off. Immortal.’ As we know, he won those two medals… but is he immortal?
It was also interesting to note that when asked about his ability to win races and yet not go near his world record, he said that his legs cannot go as fast as they used to. ‘I am not 26 or 21 anymore’, he said. The ageing process is beginning to impact the fastest man on the planet – not that we could tell watching him run 200 metres in less than 20 seconds! But as a 29-year-old supremely fit athlete, Usain Bolt knows that his best running days are now primarily behind him. Such is the unrelenting march of time which impacts us all – even magnificently tuned athletes like Usain Bolt. The very slight cracks starting to appear in Usain Bolt’s ability to keep running faster than anyone else show us that, despite the frequent use of the word, he is not ‘immortal’.
Immortal is a word also used to describe God – who unlike us does not have a problem with ageing. From eternity to eternity, God exists. His unchanging nature and abounding grace is a wonderful foundation on which to base a life. Even as Usain would kneel at the blocks, he would cross himself and point to heaven in an acknowledgement that there was one greater than himself, and to whom he owed his abilities. For some it seems that the circumstances of life are sweet, for others it is not so. Yet, whatever our circumstances, we still are dependent upon the goodness of God for the air that fills our lungs and gives us life. Each day is a gift from God to be lived for His honour, even if the mirror reminds us that we are not immortal.
Senior School Chaplain