We have had time to digest Cadel Evans' victory at the 2011 Tour de France. Many are pointing to this as the greatest win in Aussie sport. So is it? If not, then what else stands out?
The America's Cup – The sight of the boxing kangaroo over the New York Yacht Club caught the attention of all Australians back in 1983. For 132 years the America's Cup was, well, America's. But by the end of the match races Dennis Conner lost the Cup to John Bertrand's crew. Suddenly everyone was talking about winged keels, Lexcen's design and Bond's brilliance. Was this the greatest moment?
Cathy Freeman's Olympic 400m Gold – With the weight of a nation on her shoulders, Freeman won the Sydney 2000 Olympic 400m Gold Medal. In front of an Australian home crowd of 116 000 screaming fans she did what all athletes dream of: performing at their best and winning Gold. So was this the greatest victory?
Australian Ashes Victory – The Invincibles went on a record-breaking unbeaten tour of England with Don Bradman at the helm. This was one of the greatest players captaining one of Australia's greatest teams to one of Australia's greatest victories. Or do you go solely for Bradman's 334 runs in the Third Test in Leeds in 1930?
Tennis – Or what about the efforts of Rod Laver winning two Grand Slams in 1962 and 1969 or Margaret Court winning US Open, French, Wimbledon and Australian Opens?
What other Aussie victories make your list? While you debate this around your Aussie BBQ consider these factors about Evans' effort at the Tour:
Cadel took on over 180 other international professional riders. Cycling is truly an international sport. He rode for 21 days over 3430km. This included stages up to 226km in one day and climbing mountains up to 2744m above sea level. The event requires extraordinary skill to balance the correct foods and fuel each day, along with adequate hydration. After each stage he has to get his recovery right to prepare his body for the next day's stage. Evans also had to balance the diverse stages sometimes requiring sprinting, mountain climbing and timetrial riding.
To prepare for this, Cadel had been training hard since 1994, winning World Mountain Bike Championships before moving to Road Cycling. This saw him training 1000km/week in all types of weather and locations. They say the life of a professional cyclist is a lonely one filled with painful training sessions and broken collarbones from falls. For my mind it is the most amazing result in Australian sport. Something we may not see again in a lifetime. His effort stands out.
Well-Being Theologian reflects on another stand-out performance. It is a performance that stands out across the ages and exemplified Jesus' qualities of sacrifice, pain, passion and victory.
It is Jesus' victory over sin and death on the cross. In the Bible, (1 Corinthians 15: 56-57), Paul writes in his first letter to the church in Corinth, "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
When Jesus went to the cross He took upon Himself our sin: all of our rebelling towards God. He took this sacrifice so that we might live and be restored back to God. And because death could not hold Him down He rose, winning victory not only for Himself but for all who are on His team. That one victory stands out and changes the world.
Cadel Evans won a great victory that we all spent time mediating on. Surely, Jesus' victory also needs our dedicated focus for what it means to us.
Jeremy is a former sport scientist, now chaplain & pastor.