One of the highlights coming out of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, if you follow the religious news outlets, is the strong Christian faith of many of our Team U.S.A. athletes. Read some of their inspiring words giving public testimony to how God has given them their talent and has carried them through the hardship and difficulty along their road to world-class athletic competition. In a world that seems to have lost its faith in God, these are refreshing and encouraging to read!
1. Morolake Akinosun: Track and Field
"God made me for a purpose way beyond track and field . . . but He also made me fast."
2. Simon Biles: Gymnastics
"Before a big event, I usually go to church and light a candle for St Sebastian, who is the patron saint of athletes."
3. David Boudia: Diving
“God was completely sovereign throughout this entire journey. He knew how it was going to happen, when it was going to happen, and we know why it happens—to make me more like Christ.”
4. Trayvon Bromell: Track and Field
“[Having injuries] made me stronger as a person, spiritually and physically. 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.”
5. Jordan Burroughs: Wrestling
“I’ve been blessed with tremendous gifts, and it’s my job to use those gifts to inspire others. As a man of faith, I take great responsibility in being a good steward of my talent . . . God has created unique … avenues to allow me to glorify him.”
6. Michelle Carter: Track and Field
“People notice how I am living out my faith. Sometimes it takes me by surprise how much they notice . . . even when no one is looking, the way I act is important because it is a reflection of how I walk with Christ.”
7. Jake Dalton: Gymnastics
“I think fitness and faith go hand in hand because there are going to be times where you are tested and you need to do your best to stay on track. You are going to fail but as long as you do your best to remember the end goal, you will be successful.”
8. Maya DiRado: Swimming
“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?”
9. Tervel Dlagnev: Wrestling
“Trust in the Lord. I asked him not to blow out my back and I was very happy that it didn't happen.”
10. Gabby Douglas: Gymnastics
“I take my Bible with me, sometimes two of them, when I travel. . . . I always pray at every competition, when the judge's hand goes up I am praying, and there are little Scriptures I like to quote. That keeps me motivated when I am about to go out on the competition floor. I would say little short prayers, quoting Scriptures: I can do all things through Christ, don't fear, be courageous. Little things like that get me motivated.”
11. Caeleb Dressel: Swimming
"I really learned to see the light at the end of the tunnel and trust what God is doing, whether it be a rough point in your life or a top pinnacle in your life. You've just got to take pauses and really trust what He's doing."
12. Brady Ellison: Archery
“Once I put winning in God’s hands, I stopped worrying about that . . . I just went to tournaments and shot with no fear, doing only the best I can do and leaving the rest up to God.”
13. Allyson Felix: Track and Field
“I never expected to be a professional athlete . . . I had to really trust him and his plan for my life. We always have our own idea of how our life is going to go, but we really have to follow the Lord’s will. I had to trust him in regards to injuries and other life situations.”
14. English 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.”
15. Vincent Hancock: Shooting
“I am strong because of my faith. I'm a Christian. I believe everything I have is a gift and a blessing.”
16. Tobin Heath: Soccer
"If you see being a role model as a platform where you can pour into others for Jesus with love, that's where I want to be. Becoming known or noticed in my sport isn't what's drives me to work hard and want to be the best I can be . . . It's Jesus. That's why I play. I play to glorify Him."
17. Laurie Hernandez: Gymnastics
“Usually, before I salute the judge I’m able to just grab the event and I pray on it and that really grounds me. For some reason, once I do that, I am able to think clearly and I’m able to calm down right before I compete.”
18. Steele Johnson: Diving
"Yeah, I’m Steele Johnson the Olympian, but at the same time I’m here to love and serve Christ. My identity is rooted in Christ, not in the flips we’re doing."
19. Gwen Jorgensen: Triathlon
“I really think you just have to keep God as your focal point and know that he is always number one. When you do that, it will help you to gain perspective on everything in life—not just endurance sports.”
20. DeAndre Jordan: Basketball
“You see, the most amazing thing about having faith and believing is that once you give yourself to the Lord, you are able to live freely . . . You no longer need to worry about what has happened, what might happen, or what you want to happen; you simply need to be a good person and work hard, because you know God has a plan for you. "
21. Madison Kocian: Gymnastics
“Sometimes we get too caught up in our busy lives that we forget to thank God for the little things . . . like waking up every day.”
22. Katie Ledecky
“My Catholic faith is very important to me. It always has been and it always will be. It is part of who I am and I feel comfortable practicing my faith. It helps me put things in perspective.”
23. Steven Lopez: Taekwondo
“[My faith is a] very key component to what I build my success on and I always prayed that if I ever found a platform that I can give back, I would . . . Being a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a bronze medalist and my family having the success it’s had in this sport, it transcended the sport.”
24. Joey Maloy: Triathlon
"[My] Catholic teachers, coaches and classmates taught me what it meant to have faith, to work for ideals, and to use that work to make the world a little better.”
25. Simone Manuel: Swimming
"All glory to God. Isn't he awesome! I am extremely blessed. A long, tough year, but may more good things to come."
26. Sydney McLaughlin: Track and Field
“God’s got you. He has given me amazing talent, and he has gotten me to where I am.”
27. Maya Moore: Basketball
"God has used me in ways I don’t even know, and I’m still learning how God wants to use me now."
28. Reid Priddy: Volleyball
"Volleyball has been a major way God communicates life lessons to me . . . they go hand-in-hand; what I’m learning on the volleyball court I am able to apply in life and vice versa.”
29. Jenny 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.”
30. David Smith: Volleyball
“It’s been a big thing for me to understand that my joy and my peace do not revolve around my performance or how I do compared to other people. My joy comes from the fact that I am playing a game I love and that he created me to play.”