- Features Archive
- Premier at the Olympics
Are you a fan?
Most of us would describe ourselves as a ‘fan’ of something, be it The Rolling Stones, Japanese Manga cartoons, or surfing. Hobbies are a natural part of the tapestry of everyday life. Maybe you've got green fingers, never more than a few feet from your beloved flower beds. Perhaps you turn into a bundle of nerves if a friend's visit runs into your Coronation Street fix. You might have queued hours to see Take That on tour or set your alarm, waking with the dawn chorus, to get your hands on London 2012 tickets.
To be a fan is to be zealous, enthusiastic, perhaps even obsessive. According to Winston Churchill, "a fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject". Hardly the basis for a sound, wise person it would seem. But there are elements of the ‘super-fan’ that are an example to us, as followers of Christ.
Do you cheer at the top of your lungs when you team score a last-minute goal but shy away from showing the same gusto in the songs at church? Do you wax lyrical for weeks after a great gig but remain tight-lipped about a great night of worship? Stay in on a Saturday night because you can’t bear to miss X Factor but skip your morning Bible reading when you're running late? Bore your colleagues to tears with the intimate details of your favourite celebrity ("apparently Brad & Ang are finally getting married!") but fail to mention an incredible answer to prayer?
When we think about all He has done, we should be proper fans of Jesus. Not fanatical in the negative, obsessive, blinkered sense, but verbally enthusiastic to those around us about the one we call Lord.
How can we expect this nation to bow the knee to God if we aren’t more excited about Him? Why not try and take the ferver you felt during the Olympics and translate it into the way you talk about God? Great Britain united during the Games in an unusual fit of passion and excitement. It would be fantastic to see our churches unite to proclaim the works of Jesus for the rest of 2012...and beyond!
I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! Deuteronomy 32:3
Our Olympics Overview
A Christian Olympian is praising London for an 'extraordinarily successful Games'.
Nick Willis who competed for New Zealand in the 1500m was speaking at the More than Gold Legacy Breakfast. He tells Premier's Marcus Jones he's been amazed how well it's gone.
Two Christian Olympians have been honoured for their Christ like character in the world of sport.
GB Rower Debbie Flood and USA decathlete Bryan Clay have been given the Eric Liddell awards. His story of winning a gold medal after refusing to run on a Sunday was made famous in the film Chariots of Fire.
Brian and Debbie have been telling Premier's Marcus Jones it's not easy staying true to your faith in the world of sport.
Debbie Flood and Bryan Clay
The UK Director of More than Gold has described the Church's response to the Olympics as breath-taking.
John Burns has been overseeing the group which has been helping local churches put on events for the Games. He tells Premier's Marcus Jones his feelings on how it's all gone.
London churches really are catering for all sorts of fans during the Olympics.
The Swedish Church is opening its doors every day of the Games to welcome in visitors from Sweden. It's running a cafe and also has mobile teams out offering help and advice in the main tourist locations.
Chaplain of the Church Anders Rune tells Premier more about it.
One of the projects organised by More than Gold - the group co-ordinating the Church's response to the Games - is the Athletes Family Homestay Programme.
This is where people in London offer to host the relatives of those who are competing. Revd Christine Rablen has been hosting a family from Guam who's daughter took part in the 800m qualifying this morning.
She tells Premier of her experience.
Teenagers from all over the world are taking to the streets of East London to help with community projects.
Different Youth for Christ groups are using the Olympics as a catalyst for good work in the area. It comes under the banner of Love E7 - a postcode close to the Olympic Park.
Organiser Jimmy Dale's been speaking to Premier's Marcus Jones.
The cycling road races and time trials took place in South West London so it's not just East End churches getting involved.
St John's in Hampton Wick opened its doors, put on a BBQ and showed the action on big screens.
Its vicar Revd Graham Singh explains all about it.
St John's in Stratford is making use of the fact of being just round the corner from the Olympic park.
It's had open air events everyday of the Games and in the first few days saw one hundred people asking to find out more about Christianity.
Vicar Revd David Richards's been telling Marcus how it's come about.
Hundreds of Catholics are getting to the Olympic spirit at East London school.
The Joshua Camp is taking place near to Stratford. Those involved are taking part in hospitality projects at churches near to the Olympic park and also street evangelism.
Father Simon Penhalagan is leading the group and Premier's Marcus Jones caught up with him.
Revd Nigel Stone has is the Diocese of Southwark's Olympic Co-ordinator.
He's been encouraging churches close to the action of the Games to get involved and has been telling Premier all about it.
Newham prostitute rescued from violent trade by Christian charity
A sex worker from Newham in east London quit the trade after meeting a team of Christians giving out goody bags to prostitutes on the streets.
Prostitutes in the Olympic borough of Newham have been getting help from local churches and hearing the gospel of Jesus during the Games. There's expected to be an increase in prostitution and sex trafficking because of the sporting event, according to More than Gold - an umbrella body of churches and Christian organisations formed to engage with London 2012.
Christian Chambers scoops silver
British Olympic rower, Richard Chambers, spoke to Premier's roving Olympics reporter, Marcus Jones, ahead of winning the silver medal in his men's lightweight four event. Find out how he prepared for London 2012, and what drives him to such amazing success.
My greatest Olympic memory
Mark McAllister, Chairman for Christians in Sport
I've been very fortunate over the years to have attended many great sporting events: seeing my home team, Liverpool, lift the European Cup; watching Federer battle Nadal on Centre Court; witnessing many historic World Records at Commonwealth and Olympic Games. However, one memory stands out from all the rest. It was at the 2000 Sydney Olympics where I was leading a Bible study among the British team on behalf of Christians in Sport.
On the Wednesday evening I met Chris Maddox, the British competitor in the 50km Walk. Chris was taking part in his fifth Olympic Games but, unlike Sir Steve Redgrave, Chris had never been close to a medal let alone winning five golds. When I asked him about his chances in the race, he replied that he was in the best form of his life but a niggling leg injury was troubling him. He then added, much to my surprise, that a friend told him he should pray about the injury. I prayed with Chris and offered to get up early on Friday morning to support him in his event.
As I approached the Olympic stadium, nervous about the impact on Chris if the prayers had been unsuccessful, the race was just underway and he was already trailing the rest of the field. The race began and finished in the Olympic stadium and consisted of 25 laps of a circuit on the adjoining roads. I looked for a vantage point to watch and noticed a large Union Jack. It belonged to Chris’s coach, who turned out to be the Christian friend who had recommended prayer and had been witnessing to Chris for years.
Half way through the race, Chris struggled over to us at the side of the road to say that he could not continue. His coach insisted that in a long career Chris had never once failed to complete a race and that he would regret it for years to come if he dropped out of his final competition. Chris struggled on but was getting progressively further behind the rest. The 50km Walk is a gruelling event and many other athletes dropped out or were disqualified for “lifting”. When all the others left in the race had re-entered the stadium, Chris still had two circuits to complete. Ahead of him officials were dismantling drink stations and taking down markers as Chris battled on. It was painful to watch.
I dashed across to the Olympic stadium to watch Chris finish the race. The stadium was completely full of spectators who had come to watch the world’s greatest sprinters compete in the heats of the Men’s 4x100m relay. However, these heats could not start until the 50km Walk was complete. Thoroughbreds of sprinting paced up and down the track. Chris was single–handedly holding up the whole Olympic programme by 45 minutes. Just then, the PA system started to play 1,000 Miles by the Proclaimers and the whole crowd clapped along in time. The announcer declared that the spirit of the Olympic Games was taking part not winning and we should greet the arrival of: “an athlete taking part in his fifth Olympic Games, Chris Maddox of Great Britain!” As Chris emerged from the shadow of the tunnel into the dazzling sunlight of the track, the crowd rose as one - clapping and cheering him down to the finish line. The hairs stoop up on the back of my neck and my eyes welled. His face on the screen as he crossed the line was a joy to behold, before he was whisked away for his one and only live TV interview. He was the talk of the national newspapers for the next few days.
Several months later Chris sent me a letter, thanking me for my support. He concluded that God moves in mysterious ways. If he had been healed of his injury, he would have completed the race in mid-pack obscurity as he had throughout his career. However, the way things had turned out his athletics career had ended on a more exhilarating high note than he had ever dared to imagine.
A volunteer's perspective
Colin Baynes, Premier Media Group
The Games are nearly here – and I’m tingling (gently) with anticipation. Not because I’m a key member of the British 4 x 100m team. Not because I’m a Team GB official or coach. I’m not a sponsor or media partner, and have never to my knowledge chaired a National Olympic Committee (except in a rather scary dream which I don’t really want to go into right now).
No – but I am a Games Maker! I am one of the ‘elite’ 70,000 *chortle* selected to serve as volunteers for the Olympics and Paralympics. I have (as we are repeatedly told) a key role in making the Games work – nay, more than that, making them go with a swing. We are the face of the Games! We have the chance to make a difference in the lives of thousands of athletes, spectators and others, with a smile on our faces and a guidebook in our pockets. What a privilege!
In some ways the whole selection and training process mirrors my experience of Church. I’ve been welcomed into the biggest volunteer workforce ever to be mobilised in peacetime. I’ve been given a specific task to carry out and trained to do so. I have got to know a small team of people who will be my friends and colleagues for a short time. I’ve been made constantly aware that I am just a small part of something much, much bigger. I share the excitement that we’re working towards a common goal. I have made small sacrifices (including giving up 10 days annual leave). But I know that what I get back will be far more: new friends, an experience I will never forget, an insider’s knowledge of the Olympic movement...and of course, a funky purple-and-red uniform, which I get to keep. My wife hates it but I don't care. What more could I wish for?!
Want to meet some of Team GB's main contenders for London 2012? Premier's Breakfast journalist, Marcus Jones, introduces some athletes competing in this summer's Games for whom God is a bigger focus than gold.
A part to play
Premier's US intern Nicole Jones is excited about being in London for the Olympics. Scrap that, she's really, REALLY excited. Read why the Olympic torch relay has got her thinking about evangelism.
Is sporting nationalism dangerous?
In this debate for Christianity magazine, Jonathan Langley and Malky Currie go head to head in on the topic of whether we should be patriotic in sport. Is it harmless...or harmful? Who will you side with?
Going for Gold
Christian writer Chris Hill gives his take on the Olympics - the meaning, the implications - all within the context of Biblical faith. Learn more about the history of the Olympic Games with some amazing facts, such as what the original sports were, and why the Greeks' nudity kept the Jews from competing.