We all love champions. The Olympics brings out our love for champions. We love to see how honed skill, willpower and flesh meld together into a champion. And there is one quality that I particularly thrill to see in a champion- joy. No, not the joy of winning, the joy in the doing- the sheer joy of running the race. The- ‘I would do this if no one was watching’ kind of joy; now to me that is a real champion. I’ve been watching for that joy in the 2016 Olympics, some have won and others have lost but to me? When I’ve seen it- I’ve seen a champion. It’s a rare quality. Several years ago, we were in Louisville Kentucky, I remember it well- it was the week after the Kentucky Derby…Louisville was still decked out- we stayed at the famous Brown’s Hotel, we took a tour out to Churchill Downs…it was very impressive; it was the first time I had ever heard about the champion racehorses who were buried on the grounds- the guide said the head, the heart and the hooves of the horses were buried along with the cremated remains. The head for determination- the will to win; the heart for courage; the hooves for speed to run the race. Barbaros wins the 2006 Kentucky Derby!
Only one horse is actually buried at the racetrack- Barbaros. His story is one of great promise- after winning the 2006 Kentucky Derby, he was considered a shew in for the Triple Crown. He did not- at the Preakness, something terrible happened and he had to be pulled out of the race. I know nothing about veterinary medicine, but the bones in one of his hind legs had to be repaired in more than 20 places, then became infected- the condition he had was a death knell. His surgery is still groundbreaking and provides useful information for those who care for horses. Barbaros lived for 8 months afterwards- his head and his heart- his joy, courage and determination never flagged, until the last two days of his life. When that light went out, his owners and veterinarian knew he was suffering terribly and could not be saved. His grieving owners gained permission to bury Barbaros at Churchill Downs and commissioned Alexa King of Lexington, Kentucky to create a life-size bronze of Barbaros. Look at the above photograph of Barbaros winning the Kentucky Derby! All four of his hooves are off the ground! The bronze that Alexa King created is a gorgeous engineering marvel! Look at the opening photograph and you will see the 1500 pound lifesize horse has all four feet off the ground! The sculptor also managed to capture Barbaros in action, in spirit and as the guide pointed out- even the determination and joy!
‘When I mold clay in my hand I sense the movement of a horse!’ Alexa King
At the base of the statue is a quote-
‘God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His Pleasure’
Eric Liddell was a gold medal winner in the 1924 Paris Olympiad. He was dubbed the ‘Flying Scotsman’. He won the 400 meter, which he had not trained to run; against all odds- he won over the highly favored Americans. Like Barbaros, he could practically fly! Eric Liddel was of Scottish descent but was born in China to missionary parents.
While he was being educated in Great Britain, he developed a love of running. God had indeed made him fast. He also loved education and science- he became a teacher and a devout follower of the teachings of the Church of Scotland, with the intention of returning to China, to join his parents in their missionary work. Eric Liddell ran to honor God…
‘Seeing we are encompassed by so a great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us; and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…’ Hebrew 12:1-2
to be continued…
You won’t want to miss Part 2! Love y’all, Camellia