Diplomatic Notes

Celebrating Shaunae Miller and Steven Gardiner

There are approximately eight billion people in the world – of that number, approximately 350,000 are Bahamians. China and India have over one billion people, the United States of America (USA) has over 330 million, Nigeria 200 million. How is it that of the eight billion people in the world, The Bahamas would have two Olympic gold medalists at the same Olympic Games?

What are the odds? It almost does not make sense that we would achieve one gold medal, let alone two.

We are a blessed little nation and continually exceed expectations and limitations. The Bahamas has two number one draft picks in the NBA (National Basketball Association) – no other nation our size has had even one.

What is so unique about The Bahamas that we would achieve at this level?

We are blessed in many ways but what we are seeing is not automatic, it requires hard work, determination and perseverance. There is always a story behind the glory. The story is talent, hard work, discipline and relentless effort.

The story is prayers and faith.

Jesus said to his disciples, “All things are possible if you believe.” Shaunae Miller and Steven Gardiner have reminded us to believe all things are indeed possible.

I made sure I was in front of my largest TV screen for both races. I did not want to miss a moment. I listened as the commentators insisted that Kirani James would win based upon his world leading time in the semifinals. I was concerned – but hopeful and nervous. As the race started, it looked like James would lead the pack, but the second half of the race, the long legs of Steven seemed to extend and extend as the strides got longer and longer, with him finally opening a gap and cruising to the finish line. The Bahamas did it again!

Next, it was Shaunae’s turn. There was a sense of uncertainty in the air. The commentators noticed pain on her face. They talked about a possible hamstring injury and wondered if she would be able to beat competitors who had better times and looked fresher. We all knew she had the capability but were not sure if she was in the best condition to pull out the victory. As the gun went off, I noticed some of the other runners going out fast. It seemed that Shaunae took her time and saved her best for the second half of the race. As they hit the turn for the homestretch, like Steven, Shaunae seemed to extend her long legs, dominating her competitors down the stretch and with 75 meters to go, my family room was “jumping”. We knew the race was over and started high-fiving as she crossed the finished line.

In the post-race interview, Shaunae revealed the real story behind the glory. There is always a story. Champions often have to persevere and overcome to make it to the podium. Shaunae talked about her faith, how she prayed and trusted God and thanked God for bringing her through.

We celebrate, but there are some important lessons behind the celebration. Both Steven and Shaunae have had to deal with injuries and have had to make comebacks. They showed us it is possible if you believe, are willing to work hard, be disciplined and push through the pain. Yes, we are a small country with a people with a big heart, but we are also a country of a people of hope and faith. We are a people who have climbed the mountain over and over again. There are others who will follow in Shaunae’s and Steven’s footsteps, but we cannot ever take for granted that it will happen without the pain that precedes the promise.

• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to
pastordaveburrows@hotmail.com. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.     

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