Championship Qualities: Our Heroes

8″He has a head, two arms, two legs just as I…”
Bernard Hinault, One of the Heroes

Campionissimo suffered for his successes and failures

Campionissimo suffered for his successes and failures

Our heroes in the sport are those whose greatness is defined by accomplishments on the bike. These are the great ones whose epic rides still leave us breathless, inspired and intrigued. These are the influential persons whose words and deeds and attitudes influence an entire dominion of like-minded pursuivants. They eat bananas, so we eat bananas. They ride a certain frame, so we ride a certain frame. They speak out against drugs, we don’t do drugs. The responsibility really is as great as the influence brought by the accomplishments. It is cycling’s version of noblesse oblige, the privilege and responsibility of aristocracy to set a standard for the welfare of the kingdom. Like it or not, these heroes are in the jersey worn to symbolize an exemplary life.

And yet we are all judged by our individual choices. From this perspective the jersey must be worn by all of us and the privilege of slipping on the qualities of greatness experienced atop the podiums of our lives. These heroes are human beings: fallible and fallen who experienced failure. We must not idolize victors or even victory. We can take away 9their attributes: vulnerable veracity of Campionissimo, relentless dominance of The Cannibal, determined aggression of The Badger, longevity of Longo, gentle strength of Big Mig, and sustained drive of Armstrong.

Remember, greatness is a perpetual discipline that is stewarded but not possessed by us. Winners should not be idols. We are made to worship only Who transcends us and all we do.

Prayer for Cycling’s Champions
“You must not have any other god but me.You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.” 10Exodus 20:3-5

We confess our adoration of exemplary creatures over their Exceptional Creator. We ask to develop heroic qualities. We pray for the restoration of our fallen heroes – those whose imperfections have disappointed – not to godlike status but to a proper place. We pray for our heroes – their lives, achievements and attributes long after the races are over.

Ponder Do I idolize when I should emulate or evaluate? Affirm I can admire without worshipping. Watch setting up those you adore from a hard fall off their pedestal and that your admiration doesn’t cross into feeling intimidated.


8Bernard Hinault quote from I do not know the original source. It would be interesting to know the context of this interview.

9Campionissimo – Fausto Coppi; The Cannibal- Eddy Merckx; The Badger- Bernard Hinault; Jeannie Longo has more wins than any other woman ever spanning decades of winning; Big Mig- Miguel Indurain; Lance Armstrong’s drive to a record 7 Tour de France wins- the biblical number of perfection or completion.

10Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004 Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189

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