Conquering your personal Olympic race

Lyndon Rush has an appropriate surname. Every time the Saskatchewan-born Olympic bobsledder climbs into his machine, he speeds.  He has no choice. “There’s no way to slow down, so you’re going as fast as gravity is taking you…plus there’s no control over the speed,” he commented during one interview.

A small pointy vehicle? A slick and twisty run? Using no brakes until after the finish line?  Even children know something about that recipe: it calls for courage.

Before the Sochi Olympics, I stood beside a gently inclining ditch bordering the country road at the end of our street. Two of my grandbeans, bundled up to their eyelashes, prepared to jump on their mean green snow machine and fly down its slope.

I provided colour commentary, loudly announcing the particulars. ”In the front, piloting the sled, rides Mr. Bean B, with his teammate, Miss Butterfly B in the back. Ladies and gentlemen, this remarkable sister/brother pair have won every race they’ve entered and I expect this one will be no different. Keep a close eye on this pair, folks…”

“Nana,” said one, stern-voiced. “We haven’t entered any races.”  Then, with a heave and a ho, a heft from the commentator and a few assuring words to the slightly frightened team member, the pair scooted forward. At the bottom they scrambled out. Thrust their fists into the air. “Yeah…we won! We won!”

No one competes in a race to lose. But behind every podium moment sits practice, perseverence, losses, and a passel of courage. Sometimes that’s the stickler.

Lyndon Rush raced bicycles as a kid. Played football in university. He knows fear. He recalls how it attacked him at the beginning of his bobsled training in 2004. “I actually crashed on my first run from the top. I had panicked and we dumped it.”

But Rush pressed on, tucking training and competition between family life and a real estate career. Among other wins, at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, his team brought won Bronze – Canada’s first Olympic four-man bobsled medal in four decades. In the 2012 World Cup, he and his teammate achieved Gold in the two-man bobsled event.

Lyndon Rush has learned something about conquering fear: “You have to be in control of your emotions….if you’re a little bit scared, you can lose your focus and edge.”

He’s not afraid of his sport, and he’s not afraid to let others know that he’s a born-again Christian whose faith in integral to his life. “I don’t know how to do it without the Lord,” he says. “I feel like I’ve almost got an unfair advantage.” He says his courage stems directly from his belief that God is reliable, God has a plan and God is in charge.

Everyday life is a race often more frightening than any Olympic sport. Learn from this Olympian the recipe for courage: Practice. Persevere. Pray. Stay connected to God. And whether or not you make the podium, you’ve already won.


The four man sleds race in Sochi on February 23. Watch for Rush and his team as they defend their 2010 Olympic Gold.

You can read Rush’s interview on BeliefNet here: