Ready to Race?

The Rev Tim Smith, pastor at Hele Road Baptist Church in Torquay. Photo: Contributed

The Rev Tim Smith, pastor at Hele Road Baptist Church in Torquay. Photo: Contributed - Credit: Archant

57.37 seconds. It took less than a minute in Tokyo, in the early hours of Monday morning, UK time, for Adam Peaty to win Olympic gold in the 100 metres breaststroke.   
In doing so, Peaty made history, becoming the first British swimmer ever to successfully defend their Olympic title.  
Back in April, at the British Olympic swimming trials, Peaty’s time of 57.39 seconds meant that he was the holder of the twenty fastest times ever recorded for the 100 metres breaststroke.   
In the intervening weeks leading up to the Tokyo games, only one other swimmer – the silver medallist in Monday’s final, Arno Kamminga, from the Netherlands – managed a time under 58 seconds.   
As well as being a double-Olympic gold medallist, this 26-year-old athletic powerhouse from Uttoxeter in Staffordshire, is also holder of the world record for this event, clocking a time of 56.88 seconds in the semi-finals of the 2019 World Aquatic Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.   
In achieving this feat, Peaty finished nearly two seconds ahead of his opponents, which is a chasm in such an event, and he also became the first person in 100 metre breaststroke history to finish the race in under 57 seconds.   
However, Adam Peaty hasn’t yet achieved all his swimming goals. His desire is to push the boundaries of his event to the extent that he will achieve a “legacy” time that will stand for decades.   
To do so, Adam aims to reduce the world record to 56.5 seconds. According to an interview with Murad Ahmed in last weekend’s FT magazine, Peaty believes such a feat requires him to swim the perfect race, and his dubbed his task, “Project Immortal”.   
Of course, Peaty’s success hasn’t come without a great deal of personal sacrifice over many years. His physically gruelling six-days-a-week training regime begins with early morning 10km swims, followed by extensive gym sessions, all fuelled by a meticulously managed eight thousand calories per day healthy diet, and topped off with long durations of time spent in ice-baths, as well as weekly acupuncture treatment.   
The gold medal won in the Tokyo pool is the tangible fruit of Peaty’s labours, that would have remained out of his reach, if he hadn’t devoted himself to the many, many months of disciplined preparation.   
Although such athletic achievement is the domain of those who are rightly described as elite sportsmen & sportswomen, anyone who has ever accomplished anything of note, whatever the discipline, understands the crucial role preparation plays.   
When football teams struggle to perform on a Saturday, supporters will rightly question how committed they are to their training during the week.   
It was the 18th century founding father of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, who originated the popular maxim, “by failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail”, and most of us have discovered the painful reality of this statement for ourselves.   
I’ve walked out of more than one job interview realising, all too late, that I’d not adequately anticipated the questions I might be asked, let alone spending an appropriate amount of time considering the answers I should give.  
And, as a church pastor and preacher, my recurring nightmare, is delivering an undercooked, inadequately prepared sermon. The preparedness of the men and women that we read about in the Bible, who were called by, and accomplished great things for God, was crucial.   
For example, Moses was eighty years old before the Lord commissioned him to lead the Israelites out of their years of slavery in Egypt. And he’d spent the previous forty formative years looking after sheep!   
Even Jesus spent most of his time on earth out of the limelight. His three years of public ministry was preceded by thirty years of preparation. And for anyone of us who wants to be an effective follower of Jesus today, the on-going training and preparation that comes from our daily devotions – reading my Bible and praying – listening to what the Lord wants to say to me and teach me, before going out with the enabling of the Holy Spirit to serve Him, is crucial.  
1 Timothy 4:7 & 8 reminds me to, “Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.”