I took this shot one morning before even greeting Sandra; we’d only spoken on the phone. She wasn’treally noticing me when I took it. Apart from finding it good, I did not make much of it, until after the run, when I finally sat down with Sandra, and she told me her story, and then I realized who this shot made me think of.
When Allan Wells won the Gold for the 100 meters in 1980, he dedicated his win to Eric Liddell who was one of the most loved athletes of all time, and inspired so many, even long after his death when the actor who was to play him in the movie ‘Chariots of Fire’ did such research into Eric Liddell’s life and work that he wrote one of Liddell’s sermons in the movie:
« I want to compare Faith to running in a race; it’s hard, it requires concentration and Will, Energy of Soul. You experience elation when the winner breaks the tape, but how long does that last? You go home. Maybe your dinner’s burnt. Maybe you haven’t got a job. So who am I to say: ‘Believe. Have Faith!’ In the face of Life’s realities? I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way. I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in their own way. So, where does the power come from to see the race to the end?
«Jesus said: “Behold! the Kingdom of God is within you. If, with all your heart, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me.”
«If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.»
For you see, Liddell was a man of God, and when he ran, he glorified His name. When he ran, his head was thrown back and he faced upwards, towards the heavens. I felt that somehow Sandra would be doing the same thing when she ran. Faith drives Sandra in every aspect of her life; her family and friends; her art and jewelry design that she makes available to the less fortunate and the wealthy alike.
Eric Liddell is famous for not running the 100m sprint, even though that was his favorite distance. On that day in 1924, Liddell ran for a longer distance, and won against the favorites. Since her Youth, Sandra was favored as raw material for a great athletic career, she nonetheless chose to pace herself: «I want to be able to run till I’m eighty!» she said, thinking of her coach who at first tried to push her in hard sprints, in anticipation of future competitions, but she took matters into her own hands and decided to find balance in her life.
Right before Eric Liddell’s famous run in 1924, a fellow rival from the competing American team, who did not make heed of his coach’s dismissal of Liddell as a favorite, handed Eric a piece of paper on which he had scribbled a small quote from the Book of Samuel:
“They that honour me, I will honour.”
Sandra will be running on June 7 in Byblos. I shall be there to catch a glimpse of when she would raise her head towards the sky and smile.