The Olympic Runner

Joe Lanzon
Duncan, now 77 years old, was in hospital desperately fighting for his life. His breathing was becoming weak and erratic. He was slowly losing his fighting spirit. 
 
The pretty young nurse by his side was whispering encouragements and willing him to continue to fight this important battle. She took his wrinkled hand in hers and whispered softly in his ear – “Don’t give up Duncan. I’m here with you. Let’s fight this together!
 
He heard her and, while slowly opening his eyes, he recalled that many, many years ago a man had also told him these same encouraging words when he was in another difficult situation. Many, many years ago ………………….
 
At the age of 20 he was representing Britain in the Olympic Games. It was one of the proudest moments of his career. Duncan Foster was considered by many as the favourite to win the 400 metre sprint. He had trained very hard for the event as it was his dream to one day win the gold medal for his country. 
 
Training was very hard. He knew that things don’t always work out the way you plan them, nor the way you would like them to be. However sometimes he was on the brink of losing heart. Yet he did not give up. He wanted to finish what he had started. He finally made it as Britain’s No. 1 hope for the gold medal in this sprint race. On that fateful day, he lined up against the best sprinters from many countries across the world. But he was confident that he could beat them all. 
 
As the Umpire’s starting shot rang out, he was out of the blocks as fast as an arrow. For over half the distance he held the lead in front of all the other big-named sprinters. He felt like he was galloping along the inner track like a fast unstoppable train. He was on course to win the race. 
 
Then suddenly he fell down in severe pain. His hands felt his right foot. He had torn a hamstring. But he was not going to give up. He wanted to finish what he had started. He raised himself up and hobbled to continue the race. Suddenly a man broke out from the crowd, escaped the security and came to Duncan’s side. It was his father who could not stand and watch while his son was down. “Don’t give up son. I’m here with you. Let’s finish this together!
 
The anxious father and the injured son continued slowly together. But shortly before the finishing line, Duncan’s father let him continue to finish the race alone. Hobbling and in pain, unaided to the finishing line, Duncan breasted the tape and immediately fell to the ground. A crowd of 65,000 people gave him a standing ovation. It was a sight for sore eyes. He did not win the race, but he had finished it. 
 
The identical words of the young nurse now in hospital by his side and of his long-dead father at the Olympic stadium, made him alert to the present situation. He would not let them down. He would not give up. He would struggle with all the strength that God had given him to overcome his illness. 
 
Duncan Foster, with the help of his nurse and doctors, recovered. Some days later he went home. He died five years later, serenely of old age.