Rio chaplain's diary - part three

Date posted: 15/08/16

Rio chaplain's diary

Jules Wilkinson, a member of Christians in Sport’s Performance Team, is at Rio 2016 as one of three international Protestant chaplains. She is writing a weekly diary for us while she is there. In this third entry, Jules talks traffic jams, Bible studies and confusing food.

I was lucky enough to see the women’s 400m and the men’s 100m heats in the athletics stadium on Saturday. But having watched events that last a matter of seconds, my journey to back the hotel wasn’t quite as rapid.
As we left the stadium, the ramp leading up to the train station was absolutely rammed and nobody seemed to know where to get a taxi from. We ended up going round in a circle without any joy. Eventually, the four of us found a taxi, which got us back in an hour and a half via some very scenic shortcuts.
There is an Olympic lane the athletes’ buses use, but even then it still takes 40 minutes from the Village. The venues out here are simply a long way apart and you need to factor that in to your travelling.
  • To read Jules' first diary entry, click here
  • To read Jules' second diary entry, click here

It is amazing to see Great Britain doing so well in the medal table, but I am definitely finding a real range of emotions in the Olympic Village. There is huge excitement for some, but there is also real disappointment for others and probably more of the latter.

I was talking to an athlete in a queue the other night. She had just finished her event and said if you don’t win a medal, you feel you’re just nobody. She had gone to a venue her country organised for meeting families with a friend who had won a medal and said it was like medallists were a different breed of people.

It can be really tough. An athlete, who won a medal at London 2012, only finished fifth here, which led to him being heavily criticised on social media and told they had let his country down. He didn’t do badly and was just beaten by better people on the day. Particularly from small countries, the expectation can be massive.

 Rio chaplain's diary - part three

 Some views of the Olympic Village and the media centre

I am continuing to study the Bible with lots of different athletes from different sports and countries, which is a big encouragement, hopefully to them as well as me. The passages have looked at include Psalm 73 and the healing of the paralysed man in Luke 5.

Psalm 73 is really about dealing with envy. The psalmist knows that God is good, but he struggles to believe that at times. He sees evil people appearing to prosper and thinks why am I bothering trying to live for God?

In the Olympic Village, athletes often think it is so easy for those on other teams. They have so much more funding and don’t have struggles. Envy just creeps in. Instead, believers are told it is good to be near the Lord, it is good to trust Him and called to tell of His deeds. We all struggle with envy, whether we are an Olympian or Joe Bloggs.

With the paralysed man, we considered how he would reply if we could you ask him in heaven what was the best thing that Jesus had done for him. Of course, he would say forgiveness. As a Christian, the best thing that has happened to me is that I’m forgiven, rather than whether or not I have won medals.

Rio chaplain's diary - part three

I am in Rio to serve the athletes

When meeting up with athletes, we often head to the massive dining hall to chat. Food is a big deal in the Olympic Village. The thousands of athletes there need to keep fuelled, but there are no clear labels on the food.

This means it can be quite confusing and take a long time to find something you think you would like - and even then you may not be sure. On the plus side, I have not had to do any more dining hall barrier hurdling as I described last week.

I was laughing with someone the other day that the majority of the world’s tall population seem to be in the Village. The basketballers, in particular, appear like giants when I look at them. It really is an incredible place to be and a real privilege to be serving Jesus here.

As the Games continue, please keep praying that I would be bold brave for the Lord. Pray too that I would be a real encouragement to Christians and have the right words to say to those who are seeking God.