August 5, 2008
Olympians to Watch
At least 12 confessing Christians are likely to win in Beijing.
TIME recently highlighted its "100 Olympic Athletes To Watch." As Olympic coverage cranks up, you'll be hearing more and more about them, although current reports seem mostly to have to do with the athlete's ages, injuries, and drug use.
Press agency AMP is working with the USOC and NBC to highlight other aspects of the athletes' lives. They've told CT about a number of confessing Christians among the American athletes most likely to medal. A large proportion of them mention Philippians 4:13 in interviews and on their blogs: "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
Allyson Felix, a sprinter, has a section about her faith on her blog that says, "If we can help you with your faith journey, and help you learn more about God, contact us." She's also one of the few athletes involved in USADA's Project Believe, which puts athletes through extensive drug testing. She wants everyone to know she's clean. After all, she's being compared to Marion Jones as well as Wilma Rudolph.
Tyson Gay has made a lot of news, for his hamstring injury, for being dubbed "Tyson Homosexual" by American Family Association's autoreplace, and now for being exceptionally polite. "When I raise my hands in the air it is to give God praise," he told a fan on Ask Tyson.
Prison guard and world marathon champion, Catherine Ndereba, aka Catherine the Great, is also on TIME's list as a Kenyan athlete to watch. This year's civil unrest in Kenya made training a lot scarier than it had been before, but Ndereba is back to winning again. Just over a week ago, she placed first in New York City's half-marathon.
Mark, Diana, and Steven Lopez are siblings competing in taekwondo. Their coach is their older brother. They all blog at First Family of Taekwondo. Diana says their parents always encouraged them to pray frequently and thank God in all things. The Lopezes attribute their interest in taekwondo, as well as their faith, to their parents: their father was a huge fan of kung-fu.
Jamaica-born Sanya Richards is "the youngest woman ever to break the elusive 49-second barrier at 400 meters," according to her website. She says her aunt is the person who encouraged her most to attend church regularly, something she had not done in Jamaica. There is speculation over whether her Behcet's Syndome - a disease she was diagnosed with last year - will flare up.
Marathoner Ryan Hall and his wife say that they're considering missions after the Beijing Games. But for now, they're concentrating on the Olympics and enjoying a life Hall says is a lot like retirement. Except with lots and lots of running. Hall speaks more about his faith on GodTube, his Runner's World blog, and to Today's Christian.
Decathlete Bryan Clay told Christianity Today about his involvement in Project Believe: "A huge reason why I haven't even been tempted to take drugs or do anything of that sort is because I realize that winning is not my life, it's not my identity. I know that God has me doing what I'm doing, I know that yes I can win, I also know that I'm not going to win all the time and I know that either way, win or lose, that God is going to provide for me."
Donny Robinson is one of the athletes competing in BMX racing, which is new this year to the Olympics. "Most people I'm around know that I try to live the most Christ-like life I can, and they accept what I represent," Robinson says.
Laura Wilkinson says she was on a diving platform on national television when she "asked God to forgive me for following my own path, and I gave my life back to Him." Beijing will be her third Olympics. She is one of the proud athletes who have been featured on a Wheaties box.