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With the Winter Olympics hosted again by Japan in 1998, a U.S. figure skater who took the bronze medal in Sapporo in 1972 comes to mind--Janet Lynn. The 44-year-old mother of five boys (three of them in college) remains a cult figure among the Japanese for an unforgettable moment of seeming failure in the free skate competition.

Janet knew she had no chance at the gold medal--she had been blown away by Austria’s Trixie Schuba in the compulsory figures (no longer included in the judging). She was saddened by her performance and argued with God, saying, "I wanted to do it for You, my nation, and my coach.

"Then I thought, ’Perhaps there’s a bigger purpose to my skating, to show God’s love and express the gift for skating he gave me.’ "

With that attitude, she skated. Then the unthinkable happened--Janet fell to the ice. Yet, "I was able to keep smiling," she says.

Her smile became an image, as one Tokyo hotel employee explained, that meant "there is hope, even in failure."

-- Chicago Tribune, cited in Christian Reader, "Personally Speaking."

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