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SOLOMON IZANG ASHOMS and LIZZY MILLAR, of 2K International Sports Media, report…

2K Plus International Sports Media

As the London 2012 Olympic Games drew to a close, More Than Gold, a Christian outreach organisation that seeks to enable local churches to engage with big sporting events in host cities around the world hosted the inaugural Legacy Award breakfast in honour of Eric Liddell.

“It’s a huge award, it means a lot to me that people think that what I do off the track is worthy of praise. My faith plays a huge role in my life and it’s amazing that somebody recognises that.”

– Bryan Clay, 2008 Olympic decathlon hold medallist and male winner of the inaugural Eric Liddell Award.

The Eric Liddell Award honours one male and one female Olympian who display outstanding character at home, in their community and on the field of competition. The award is given in memory of Eric Liddell, winner of the gold and bronze medals for Great Britain at the 1924 Paris Olympics. Liddell is best known for the portrayal of his Olympic experience in the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire.

The male recipient of the award was the 2008 Olympic decathlon gold medallist from the US, Bryan Clay. 

He told 2K Plus International Sport Media: “It’s a huge award, it means a lot to me that people think that what I do off the track is worthy of praise. My faith plays a huge role in my life and it’s amazing that somebody recognises that.”

The female athlete honoured at this inaugural event was British rower and double Olympic silver medallist, Debbie Flood.

Beyond his athletic successes, Liddell is known for his consistent character and strong Christian faith. Following the 1924 Olympics, he chose to return to his birthplace in China as a missionary, rather than train for further competition. By 1941, life in China had become so dangerous that Liddell sent his wife and daughters back to Great Britain. Two years later, he was interned in a Japanese POW camp, where he died in 1945, just four months before the end of World War II.

His eldest daughter, 77 year old Patricia Liddell Russell said, “He was a wonderful dad and it’s great the award is given to these athletes because there’s more to winning gold than winning gold.’’

Meanwhile, LIZZY MILLAR reports that More than Gold has seen countless churches across Great Britain use the Games as an opportunity to serve their community. In doing so, they have hosted a number of activities such as mini-sports tournaments, holiday clubs or simply handing out bottles of water to the public.

Jon Burns attributes the network of More than Gold teams to singlehandedly bringing communities together as well as many under-used churches back to life.

“We’ve been deeply encouraged. Churches that went for it have seen incredible results in their community.”

“For example, there has been one church in the East-End that hosted a holiday club that’s been ram-packed with Muslim kids. When we visited the centre, the kids were grabbing our legs and their parents were telling us they want their children to ‘hear this stuff’. It’s been incredible.”

Mr Burns also commended cross-denominational groups for working together and gave the examples of five churches in Gerrards Cross, West London, working together by attracting crowds of 6,500 to watch the opening night on big screens.

Mr Burns explained that his volunteers operated on a ‘traffic light’ system whereby if they are working in a LOCOG or ‘red area’, they simply served the community but if they are in a ‘green area’ otherwise known as a church they were free to talk openly about their faith.

Nowadays church representatives from Rio, the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games, and Toronto, the Canadian city hosting the Pan-American Games in 2015, and Scotland that will be staging the Commonwealth Games in two years’ time have been discussing how they too can take up the mantle.

Solomon Izang Ashoms is editor of Parable Magazine in South Africa. He is a media trainer and broadcast journalist who has covered major sporting events with 2K Plus International Sports Media since 2002. Lizzy Millar is a print and broadcast journalist who has worked in the UK and Dubai.


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