Special Olympic Cycling

See Our Smiles

19“Did you see that? Did you see that? Oh that was great, that was great, that was great. Did you see that? I’m so happy! I’m so happy!”  Sid Lea, Cyclist/Special Olympian and 5-time Gold Medalist

Exuberance for cycling is Special!

I sought help from a sport psychologist during a period of discouraging performances. I talked about a rider I admired but also envied. This rider raced with seeming abandonment and his uninhibited risks sometimes paid off in triumph. We discussed that his emotional style was his forté; passion and enjoyment contributed to his success as much as his considerable talent and hard work.

The psychologist advised me to watch the Special Olympics to understand the simplicity of this great strength. The oath of Special Olympics is: 20Let me WIN. But if I cannot win, let me be BRAVE in the attempt.

A Special Olympics goal is to “experience joy” and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other athletes and the community. Special Olympics (SO) is the world’s largest training and athletic competition program, serving millions of children and adults in 180 countries with intellectual disability. SO cyclists compete in short road races and time trials. A unified category pairs an SO athlete with a non-impaired tandem partner.

Intellectual disability may impair tactical awareness but it doesn’t preclude the inner qualities of fierce resolve and fearless rejoicing in competition. We know highly tactical bike racing takes thought, but at some level, great performances come instinctively and are released and unleashed from the soul as much as the legs and the mind. Winners allow themselves to be vulnerable. They put all of themselves out there not so much thinking of the result but finding enjoyment in the experience even in suffering.

So when enduring hard times in your riding either as a result of injury or some other impairment, remember your attitude can still have a positive and powerful sphere of influence. Send your own SOS and smile.

Prayer for Special Olympic Cycling

“’I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile.” 21Job 9:27


We are glad for examples of simplicity in athletic attitude. We confess we are so focused on where our names list in results that we minimize our impact. We pray that when circumstances cause complaint, we can respond as winners.   

Ponder How can I be braver? Affirm I change my world and it starts with my countenance. Watch for things that bring a smile.

19Conversations with Sid Lea. Sid does get discouraged, angry, loud and even occasionally feisty. But if he does remotely well in a race, he is the happiest guy on a bike and his smile radiates to everyone. This attitude sometimes humbles his non-intellectually “disabled by dissatisfaction” competitors.


21The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


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