The year was 2004. It was the Olympics weightlifting meet in Athens, Greece. It was the turn of a Colombian weightlifter named Oscar Figueroa. He was lifting in the 62-kilogram category. Oscar had dreamt of big things. This was his golden opportunity to actualise his dreams. Sadly, this was not to be. Oscar approached the stacked weights and lifted them but bulked under the weight and cast them forward before completing the routine. He had lifted, up to this point, a total of 127.5 kilograms. His final position? 5th place! That was tough for Oscar, but he did not give up!
Again, in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, Oscar decided to pursue his dream of securing a gold medal at the Olympics. If the scenes and outcome in Athens 4 years before had been bad, it got much worse in Beijing. Oscar tried twice, unsuccessfully, to lift the weights that seemed to taunt him, as though saying, "You simply cannot lift me!" Twice Oscar fumbled, losing his grip on one hand and not even being able to lift the weights off the floor. The result? He did not even place because he did not finish the routine! Afterward, Oscar wept like a baby on camera! Once more, he felt he had let down, not just his country and his people, but even more so, himself! It was devastating for Oscar, but he plodded on with training, looking for another opportunity to prove himself.
The next grand opportunity that presented itself was in 2012. Another Olympics event beckoned, this time in London, England. On his 3rd attempt, Oscar successfully lifted, not 127.5 kilograms in total but 177 kilograms, just 0.5 kilograms shy of 50 kilograms more than he had failed to do in Athens 8 years before! Oscar was ecstatic! The crowd roared! The result? He earned himself the silver medal, finally making it to the podium. Yes, Oscar had come far - but there still was that unachieved dream of landing a gold medal and mounting the podium to be crowned the king of weightlifting in his division.
In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with age catching up with him and with many more tough opponents to contend with, you could say Oscar had his work cut out for him. Everyone in his division, including Oscar, was hungry for success. But who would carry the day? I am sure you are holding your breath right now, hoping that Oscar would! Well, for those who dare to dream and work toward their goals, good things do happen in the end. Lifting a total of 318 kilograms, Oscar won gold, beating off stiff competition from Indonesia's Eko Yuli Irawan, the runner-up, and Farkhad Kharki of Kazakhstan, who placed 3rd.
Oscar was on cloud nine when he relaised what the result was! He, Mr. Failure at weightlifting at the Olympic games was - the world champion! Oscar had won gold! Oscar took off his shoes and knelt down, reaching out to the heavens. He kissed the stack of weights. He had conquered, not just his weightlifting division, but his fears and all his detractors! He had done it - finally!
But before you go celebrating Oscar Figueroa, my dear friend, just cast your mind back to all the failures before, the pain, the embarrassment, the likely mockery from people, even some fans and countrymen and women. Just picture that. Visualise Oscar forcing himself to train after all these failures when, some people, maybe even his trainers or fellow competitors may have been telling him: "This is simply not your thing, Oscar. Get a life! Do something with yourself!" Oscar, however, did not budge. Charles C. Noble's famous quote comes to mind here: "You must have long-range goals to keep yourself from being frustrated by short-range failures." Oscar understood this.
Yes, Oscar had already been winning titles in his weight division in the World Championships (silver and bronze); the Pan American Games (2 gold medals); the Pan American Championships (gold) and; the Central American and Caribbean Games (silver). But all these were not enough for him! He wanted something more. The Olympiad was the one event he had not won in and, for him, it would be the icing on the cake of an illustrious career. And guess what? He pursued his dream until he caught up with it, fair and square!
Do I even need to say anything more about today's nugget by way of a lesson or lessons? I want to believe you're inspired already. Let me add this little bit, though: that thing that you keep thinking you cannot do - if it is God's will for you and if you will only commit to working towards it, I bet you, you will achieve it! Like David, the giant-slayer, like Elijah, the fire-caller, like Mary, the Saviour-Bearer and like Jesus, our Lord, the world's Redeemer, you can be a winner for the Master, both on the spiritual and physical planes - if you will only fight for what is yours! Go for it! Fight for it! Commit to the dream! Go for gold!