“A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.“- Jack Dempsey- American Boxer
Growing up as a track athlete, I admired Wilma Rudolph, the world-record holding sprinter. Rudolph was the fastest woman in the world in the 1960’s, the first woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympic games. Her story was one of triumph—overcoming pneumonia and scarlet fever as a child. She also contracted polio, which caused an infantile paralysis where she lost strength in her left leg at the age of five. Wilma was disabled for much of her childhood. She had to wear a leg brace to walk until age twelve. She and her mother traveled hundreds of miles weekly to specialists for treatment. She wore orthopedic shoes until she was fourteen, and fell behind academically due to illness.
All the odds were against Wilma Rudolph excelling, but God had granted her the physicality and athletic gift to play basketball and run track. Rudolph’s height and speed were not her only gifts; she was also given the heart of a CHAMPION, one that would have the grit to overcome obstacles to win, not just in athletics but in life. Despite a pregnancy during her senior year in high school, Wilma went on to college to be trained by noted track coach Ed Temple and run with Tennessee State University’s infamous ‘Tigerbelles.‘ The rest, as they say, is history. Wilma Rudolph became a CHAMPION – a person who has defeated or surpassed all rivals in a competition, especially in sports; a person who fights or argues for a cause or on behalf of someone else. Wilma Rudolph was a champion in all respects. Her mere presence as one of the most prominent African-American women of her time challenged the status quo. She held her fame and her platform as an educator and child advocate with dignity and grace. Here’s what she said about being a champion.
“Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” – Wilma Rudolph
Wilma Rudolph was an overcomer and a victorious champion. Perhaps you have had to conquer severe challenges in order to win at life. Maybe you’re facing difficulties today. True Christ-followers are called to believe and persevere through the trials of this world.They become spiritual champions through identifying with Christ. 1 John 5:4 AMP says, For everyone born of God is victorious and overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has conquered and overcome the world—our [continuing, persistent] faith [in Jesus the Son of God].