Photos by Maral Siegel


Sri Chinmoy lifts Paul Tergat, the current marathon world-record holder (2:04:55), and 1996 and 2000 Olympic silver medallist, at Aspiration-Ground in Jamaica, Queens, New York. Paul Tergat also held the Peace Torch and visited Pilgrim-Museum.


Two Speaches


Paul Tergat: Ladies and gentlemen, this is really a big occasion for me. As I was travelling all the way from Africa, I was not expecting to see and meet with a great man of Sri Chinmoy's calibre. He has been an inspiration for thousands and millions of people around the world. I want to ask you if you can give me a few minutes, just maybe to go through my little speech, and to congratulate him, too.

Firstly, I have no words to express my elation at standing here before you to receive the "Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart" Award. Indeed, I already feel uplifted, as the award suggests, and privileged and honoured. Not every day do we find people around the world recognising your efforts back home. It is, indeed, surprising that the people honouring me today are not my countrymen, who have been closely following my events, but friends from thousands of miles away. This is why this award really lifts me up and will remain a landmark throughout my life. The fact that you noticed my historic achievements and humanitarian undertakings gives me the strength to soldier on and contribute to making the world a better place to live in.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I am made aware that for over thirty years Sri Chinmoy has tirelessly dedicated his life to the pursuit of world peace and to the fulfilment of the unlimited potential of the human spirit. A prolific author, poet, artist and musician, an enthusiastic athlete and a respected spiritual leader, Sri Chinmoy has inspired and encouraged millions of people the world over to discover the wellspring of peace and fulfilment that lies deep within each of us. Born in India, Sri Chinmoy is a modern spiritual renaissance man whose life is an example to us all of the unlimited potential present in the human spirit.

I am also glad to learn that the "Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart" Award has been presented to individuals of great inspiration around the world, including luminaries such as former South African President Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, American multi-Olympic gold medallist Carl Lewis and boxing legend Muhammad Ali, among other great people in this world. I am, indeed, very excited to be associated with this kind of an award. Let me assure you that this award will encourage me to emulate the activities of Sri Chinmoy, who has dedicated his life in the pursuit of world peace.

I would like to inform you that I am an Ambassador of the United Nations World Food Programme against hunger, and I recently started an organisation known as the Paul Tergat Foundation with the aim of helping the needy in various fields.

I am not in this field by mistake. I was a victim of poverty when I was young, and I truly understand its implications. I was a beneficiary of the World Food Programme while I was in primary school, and I am who I am today because of the same. As a child living in the Rift Valley Province in Kenya, I attended a school which was supported by WFP. Children who would otherwise have gone to school on empty stomachs were given free lunch meals; and I saw how school feeding could transform a child's life, providing a generation of children with a chance of education and the possibility of pursuing their dreams. Once again, I want to say thank you very much, and I hope to do more in terms of charity, not only for the children of Kenya, but to contribute to the generation of kids in this world.

Once again, Sri Chinmoy, it is my pleasure and honour that today I met you for the first time. As somebody said, you are 74 years young, and I hope that I will truly reflect your aspiration to turn this world into a better place to live in for many generations. Thank you.

Sri Chinmoy: My dearest Brother-Friend Paul, the champion of champions in the marathon world, in my song I have expressed my inmost feelings for you:

   Paul Tergat, Paul! Paul Tergat, Paul!
   We all love you; indeed, we all.
   Paul, we see, fast is your leg-speed;
   We feel, faster is your heart-speed;
   We know, fastest is your self-giving speed.
   Mammoth marathon runners you lead.
   Paul Tergat, Paul! Paul Tergat, Paul!
   Loved and admired by big and small.

Many years ago, I made two predictions. The first prediction I made facing the Berlin Wall when it was separating East Berlin and West Berlin. My first prediction came true. I have been praying and praying for the second prediction also to come true, and I pray to the Almighty God inside you, Paul, to fulfil my prediction.

The first prediction was that within twenty-five years the Berlin Wall would be demolished. There would be only one Germany, not East and West. Within twenty-five years I said, but my prediction, my wishful thinking, took only three years to be fulfilled. Within three years, President Gorbachev —- who is a very, very close friend of mine; I bask in the sunshine of his affection and love —- was fully responsible to unite the two Germanies.

But, alas, I made a most deplorable second prediction. I said, "Within five years, somebody will run the marathon in under two hours." Five years are now buried in oblivion, but my heart always remembers. The mind tries to forget about it, but the heart cannot forget. You are running the marathon in 2 hours and 4 minutes. Now I am begging you to fulfil my prediction!

Just run and run, and while you are running the last mile, imagine that a tiger is chasing you. This kind of experience you are having, so you are running for your life. Think that a tiger is behind you or something else that inspires you.

Then, after 25 miles, when you still have to cover one more mile to reach the finish, at that time try to feel that you are not running. Somebody else is running, and that is God. At that time, He can inspire you to think of some of His earthly creations. It can be a field, it can be a forest or it can be a lake — anything that gives you utmost joy so that your tiredness and fatigue will be transformed into your firmness.

When you are at 25 miles, with one mile more to go, please try to feel that you have completed the marathon. The indomitable joy that you will get from within will carry you through the last mile. Twenty-five miles you have run; then to reach 26 miles and a little more, at that time try to feel that Somebody else, God, is going to run this mile in and through you.

At the very start of the race, you have dedicated the marathon to God, to His Will, and the results you will place at the Feet of God. That you have to do, either cheerfully or sorrowfully. But then, once you have covered 25 miles, feel that the last mile God is running. Inwardly, He has been running in and through you the entire race, but at this point try to feel that God is running outwardly as well. You are just watching Him. You become like a person in the audience. You are watching and admiring Someone who is running so fast, so fast. That Person is God, not you. You are only observing Him, appreciating Him, admiring Him, adoring Him. You are saying, "How fast He is running!" You have to forget that you are running. At that moment feel that Paul Tergat is not running. Somebody else in the Name of God is running in and through you.

In that way, your four minutes will disappear and you will be able to run under two hours. I will be so grateful to you if you can fulfil my request. As you have said, "Nothing is impossible if you try." I have said many times that the word 'impossibility' is found only in the dictionary, but not in the heart, not in the fulfilment of our dreams. The word 'impossibility' came into existence from the mind, but when we enter into the heart, the story completely changes.

Forgive me, I am not boasting, but I wish to tell you that in my own life I do not believe in impossibility. I have seen 74 summers and winters. When I was on the wrong side of 50, I started weightlifting. Now I am lifting weights that I could not lift in those days. I am lifting much heavier weights than I lifted ten or fifteen years ago. In some cases, I am holding world records at the age of 74. This is unbelievable and, at the same time, undeniable.

So our philosophy is exactly like yours. We also subscribe to the belief that there is no such thing as impossibility. From within, if we bring forward our adamantine will to do something, then nothing can prevent us from achieving our goal. It is the mind that creates problems for us.

A little child does not use his mind. He just runs and runs. He never becomes tired. Then, when we grow up, after five minutes the mind makes us feel that we have worked very hard and we deserve a rest. But for the child there is no rest. He is running from one flower to another in the garden. We enjoy and appreciate the unlimited energy of the child, but it is beyond our imagination to act in the same way.

No, no! If you can feel you are that little child of six or seven years old, that unlimited energy again will be bestowed upon you. You will be inundated with unlimited energy, specially during the last mile. Please at that time surrender to God's Will and become the observer. You will observe the One who is running so fast and You will admire that Person.

You have to fulfil your prediction to run a faster time. Now, unfortunately, my prediction is not coming true, so I also want you to fulfil my wish-prediction to run under two hours. You and I study in the same school where there is no such thing as impossibility. There are quite a few things I have done over the years. I have written considerably, and also I have painted considerably. I am saying that by God's Grace we can accomplish everything. He wants us to be like Him: unlimited. We are His chosen children. The Father will be satisfied only when His child becomes as good and as great as He is, or even goes beyond his Father.

Each person on earth has to fulfil God's Dream. You have to fulfil; I have to fulfil; your wife has to fulfil; your manager has to fulfil. Everybody has to feel that God is performing His Will in and through each individual in a unique way. Your way is "Run, run, run and be the champion of champions. Break the world record and run under 2 hours." Now you are dreaming of it and tomorrow your dream will turn into reality. This is what happens.

Thousands of years ago, our forefathers dreamt of a world where there was continuous progress, progress, progress. Success we achieve in the outer life; progress we achieve in the inner life. With success, today we are happy. Then next day we see that somebody else has broken our record and we become miserable. Success does not last. But progress is not like that. Progress is such a secret and sacred thing. How much progress we have made in our own life, nobody else knows. It is between us and God. Progress is something everlasting, whereas success is a fleeting experience; it is just for today.

Thirty years ago, the great marathon champion, Bill Rodgers, said, "My records will go." He knew that his records were not going to last. His time was, I think, 2:08 or 2:09, and yours is 2:04. His record you have smashed.

Success you have already achieved. You are the champion of champions. How many times you have won long distance races! But progress is something else. If you offer your race to the Will of the Supreme and allow God to run in and through you, then that is your progress and that progress will last forever, as long as you are on earth.

This is my speech. This is my inner feeling about you. I am echoing and re-echoing your own message: "Nothing is impossible if you try." Let today's dream be transformed into tomorrow's reality.

* Four days later, Paul Tergat wins the New York City Marathon.

Published in The Inner Meaning of Sport