Jonathan Horton Swings for the Gold

Gold medal winning gymnast Jonathan Horton talks to Beliefnet about staying active, pursuing your dreams, and how to pray.

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What did you bring home from your experience at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing?

It’s not every day that you get to look at yourself in the mirror and think, “Wow, I have been blessed enough to finally accomplish one of my big dreams.” It was something I’d worked for my whole life. I remember stepping off the plane and seeing all the banners with the Olympic rings. I was just so thankful—more so than for the results. I was thankful to be a part of it and to represent my country in the pinnacle event of my sport. The Olympic medals were awesome. I’ll never forget competing with the team. But just being a part of it, I’ll cherish that forever.

Tell me about your faith journey.

I grew up in a Baptist church here in Houston. I always had God in my life. I always believed in God and had faith in God, but it wasn’t until I got to college that I took my own faith to another level. As a kid, you do it because your parents make you do it. It’s just part of your weekly routine. But it wasn’t until I was challenged with the things outside of my family, you know, the worldly temptations, when my faith really grew. I had to turn to Him. As my training got more difficult and as I was trying to balance school and what my friends wanted me to do with gymnastics, I had to turn to God. My faith grew tremendously. Now that I’m married, my wife and I can work together and push each other in our growth with the Lord. My gymnastics has gotten better. My faith has gotten stronger. God is number one in my life and He’s the reason that I have the success that I’ve had.

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What was the spiritual catalyst for your growth in college?

It was a couple of my teammates. My best man from my wedding is one of my best friends in the world. His name is Jacob Messina. We were freshman together. We lived together all the way through college. We shared the same beliefs. Our faith was really strong. We challenged each other. A lot of our friends would go to the bars and party. It was tempting. We’re human beings. Every now and then we’d fall short, but we would challenge each other. We’d remind each other that this wasn’t what God wanted us to do. Before knew it, probably about the end of my sophomore year, we decided to start a Bible study. We invited a bunch of guys from our gymnastics team. There was a lot of accountability for each other. Once we got more people involved, it just helped us grow. We had six or seven guys that would come over to the house. Jacob played the drums. Another one of my friends played guitar and we would worship. My faith became so much stronger once I was on my own.

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