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Finishing the Christian Race Well

When the Olympic Games of 1964 were held in Tokyo, Sri Lanka sent a contingent to the games, including a 10,000-meter runner by the name of Ranatunge Karunananda. The 10,000-meter race was won by Billy Mills of the USA and when Mills passed the finish line, Ranatunge was still 4 laps behind. (It is said that he was unwell that day). The spectators expected him to quit at some point but he kept running. As he kept running alone, people began to laugh at him and some even began to heckle him. But he still kept running.

When the spectators eventually realized that this unknown athlete was determined to finish the race, the jeers slowly turned to admiration and some applause slowly began to rise across the Stadium. As he started on the final lap, the applause grew louder as the crowd, now inspired by his perseverance, encouraged him to complete the race. Cheers and applause erupted as the exhausted athlete eventually finished the race.

Interviewed after the race, Ranatunge said, “The Olympic spirit is not to win, but to take part. So, I completed my rounds.” This story captured the imagination and the heart of the Japanese public so vividly that it eventually found its way into Japanese school textbooks!

Possible Preaching Angle:

Today, many Christians are giving up on their spiritual race due to hardships and challenges that come their way. Let's be inspired by the words of Paul who said, “…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14).


Kalana Sandhana, “Ranatunga Karunananda: Unsung Hero of Sri Lankan Sports” Etthawitthi.com (6-15-19); https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranatunge_Karunananda

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