“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified”. 1 Corinthians 9.24
This passage from the Bible is one of my favorites because as a wrestler who competes internationally I can relate to the perseverance and endurance that an athlete must go through in order to obtain the highest reward.
An Olympic medal has become a symbol of this prize and it is accompanied with honor, prestige, history, and wealth. I have to admit that I never thought about going to the Olympics when I was younger, but as I grew and learned about the honors and the influence one can have by obtaining an Olympic medal, the idea of pursuing this goal became more appealing as many athletes find. However, this idea gradually became insignificant as I struggled with the dilemma of finding life’s purpose and meaning through the sport of wrestling.
This passage shined some light onto this dilemma and helped me to understand that I could pursue a goal or dream in life that is good, but under the illusion that it would bring full fulfillment to my life once I accomplished it. In my search of meaning and purpose through athletics I stumbled across an athlete who had accomplished at the highest level in his field and once quoted “that he wished that someone would have told him that once you get to the very top of everything there was nothing up there”.
I started to think that wrestling and its rewards should not be the end in itself, but rather the means to become someone who disciplines his body and mind to model higher values outside the competition, someone whose lifestyle off the wrestling mat speaks louder than his words, someone who becomes more than wrestling.