Christian Olympians of 2016

The 2016 Summer Games are underway and there is much to see and talk about. Even the Zika virus, Brazil’s political turmoil, and the state-funded Russian doping scandal have been small news compared to the achievements of the athletes themselves.
As Brazil’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue overlooks the world’s greatest competitors striving to bring glory to themselves and their countries, we thought it would be refreshing to hear from some of the Olympians on the US team who hold their faith in Christ above bronze, silver, and gold.

Douglas_Gabby_100x167Gabby Douglas, Gymnastics

“Faith plays a very big role in my life. I don’t know where I would be without it today. I’ve always been praying for everything. And my mom always exposed me and my siblings to being a Christian and the Bible. I was watching back and looking at the Olympics and my mouth is moving — and that’s me praying.”
“I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to him and the blessings fall down on me.”

Hernandez_Laurie_100x167Laurie Hernandez, Gymnastics

“I feel that everyday God molds me into someone that he wants me to be. So if that means just, like talking to teammates and helping them out, or like every so often I’ll post a Bible verse on Twitter or Instagram. … There was one that I posted recently and I’m thinking it’s my favorite verse. It’s Proverbs 31:25”

Steele_Johnson_100x167Steele Johnson, Diving

“I want to be the best I can be, but I need to die to myself and live in excellence. I can do all the cool things in the world, but I need to give glory to God and focus on Him and not my own understanding.”
“He gave me this ability to dive … God kept me alive and he is still giving me the ability to do what I do.”

Boudia_David_100x167David Boudia, Diving

“For much of my life, I bowed at the feet of gods fashioned of gold, silver and bronze.”
“It’s all about glorifying God. I approach the practices and the competitions the same. I’m at peace when I’m doing those things and it’s for God and His glory.”
“God is providing this platform so he can reveal himself. Hopefully the sport will get more attention this year and hopefully God will get more attention out of the Olympics as well.”

Franklin_Missy_100x167Missy Franklin, Swimming

After severe back spasms kept her from competing at one point, Missy prayed, “This is me at my weakest point, at my most disappointed moment in my life … this is where I need You.”
“It’s been incredible to see, in my weakness, His strength.”

Dirado_Maya_100x167_2Maya DiRado, Swimming

“Knowing that I’m a child of God and that his love for me is determined by nothing I can achieve or do on my own has given me a quiet confidence.”
“I think God cares about my soul and whether I’m bringing his love and mercy into the world. Can I be a loving, supportive teammate, and can I bless others around me in the same way God has been so generous with me?”

dietzen_christa_100x167Christa Dietzen, Volleyball

“I couldn’t explain anything about the Olympics or my entire career without including God.”
“Freedom lies in me relying on God during those anxious moments.”

Morgan Brian, Soccer

“It’s not just about fulfilling my childhood dreams. It’s bigger than that. I can see the purpose—to make a difference in people’s lives and point them to the one who saved me: Christ, my Lord.”

catchings_tamika_100x167Tamika Catchings, Basketball

“Peace … came from realizing I needed to remove my focus from basketball back to God. It seems like every single time I have been hurt it has been the same thing. It’s been that you get so caught up in what you are doing that you forget to give him the glory.”

felix_allyson_100x167Allyson Felix, Track & Field

“I try my best to live in a way that’s Christ-like.”
“I feel very blessed to have a platform, and to try my best to run for a living and bring glory to God through that.”

gardner_english_100x167English Gardner, Track and Field

“I went in [the Olympic trials] knowing that if there was a great moment to happen … that I wouldn’t waste that moment at all, that I wouldn’t be ashamed of giving him glory, that I wouldn’t be ashamed of calling on his name.”

Simpson_Jenny_100x167Jenny Simpson, Track and Field

“I feel like my faith is something that is so individual, it’s never measured against another human being. It’s where I don’t feel vulnerable. It’s where a lot of my self-worth and a lot of my understanding of what is important to me, what I want to achieve in life, comes from.”

Akinosun_Morolake_100x167Morolake Akinosun, Track and Field

On social media, Morolake describes Jesus as “Alpha & Omega, carpenter, Messiah, Shepherd, the I am that I am, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the morning star, Rabbi, Prophet, the Son of David, the Savior, the Lamb of God, the Light of the World, the Living bread, the Redeemer. Jesus, son of Joseph. Jesus, the Nazarene. Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus Christ, our Lord & Savior.”

Bromell_Trayvon_100x167Trayvon Bromell, Track and Field

“I put my faith in God, knowing he would get me through it. Throughout the whole thing it was a struggle because, really, where I’m coming from, you don’t have a lot of resources. I didn’t have the resources and my family didn’t either, but God got us through it and it all paid off.”
Editor’s Note: Several of the above quotes and references were taken from Athletes in Action and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Also, to see more profiles of 2016 Christian Olympians, check out the rosters put together by Christianity Today and The Gospel Coalition.

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