Canadian Kim Lamarre fell on her first run in the finals for slopestyle skiing (aka ‘ski slopestyle’) at the Sochi Olympics. As she was poised to make her final run, she looked up and said ‘Sarah, let’s do this.’ And, when she landed: ‘Yeah, Sarah, we did it,’ successfully capturing a bronze medal.
Sarah Burke was a brilliant Canadian freestyle skier and an inspiration to the Sochi competitors. As a passionate advocate of the sport, she was successful in getting slopestyle skiing into the Olympics, but did not live to see her dream realized in Sochi. We captured not only a bronze in the event, but gold as well, and winner Dara Howell dedicated her medal to Burke’s memory.
An athlete’s mental state and thought process are both significant aspects of performance in the field of sports. (Think of that Canadian loonie buried at centre ice when the men’s and women’s Canadian teams won hockey gold in Salt Lake City in 2002!)
Dr. Doug Gardner, founder of ThinkSport Consulting Services in Lafayette, California, says his work with athletes is guided by one simple principal: ‘…for every physical and fundamental act in sport, there is an equally important and equally-related mental component which must be addressed.’
Ask the Seattle Seahawks as they triumphantly cradle the Superbowl trophy. Pete Carroll, their coach, incorporated yoga practice and meditation for his players along with the usual fitness and training. He valued what his players held in thought or consciousness as highly as their physical prowess.
Some athletes take the mental component of competition fitness to a higher level by tapping into a Divine source to enhance their performance.
A study of athletes at Seoul University, Korea, found that prayer was not only a key factor in coping with anxiety but also in attaining peak performance.
One participant encapsulated the findings in this statement: ‘I always prepared my game with prayer. I committed all things to God, without worry. These prayers make me calmer and more secure and I forget the fear of losing. It resulted in good play.’
Spiritual thinker and author, Mary Baker Eddy, further explored paying close attention to what we are thinking. She wrote: ‘The devotion of thought to an honest achievement makes the achievement possible.’ She recognized that thought was more the essence of an act and a stronger element in achieving success.
Similarly to athletes, we need to pay close attention to what we are thinking. Resulting actions and better outcomes such as health
depend on it.
This was experienced in the case of my friend and colleague, Roger. Competitive in his youth in track and field, he decided a few years ago to incorporate his prayer practice into everything he did including his physical workouts. He found that any fears of limitation faded out and he felt a sense of wholeness and freedom to perform. He enjoyed his workouts more and looked forward to competing again. Despite being away from triathlons for 30 years, he won his age group last year and his time was good enough to win the next younger group.
What do you consider a gold medal when it comes to your health and well being? How can you achieve it? Incorporate the daily acknowledgment of a Divine power at work and you may feel like you are standing on a podium of success.