Like most Olympians, Kendrick Farris had an epiphany—that moment in time when it all clicks and dreams come into crystal clear focus. But for Farris, it wasn’t while training in the gym, lifting in a competition or getting a pep talk from a coach. No, the Olympic weightlifter caught a glimpse of his future while clearing off tables in a restaurant.
In this Inspiring Athletes interview, he talks about that eventful day, what he’s experienced since then and how his relationship with God is now the most important thing in his life:
Bonham: At what point in your life did you realize your athletic ability might lead to fulfilling an Olympic dream?
Farris: When I was 14 years old I knew I wanted to make an Olympic Team, but I didn’t know how hard it was to qualify. I honestly thought people made the team just because they represented a weight class. So when 2004 rolled around and I didn’t even qualify for the Olympic Trials that opened my eyes. Around the ‘04 Games I had just started college and I was working in a restaurant as a bus boy. One day at work some of my co-workers called me over pointing to the TV asking “isn’t this what you do?” First of all, it was crazy for me to see weightlifting on TV. Secondly, it was the Olympics. And thirdly, it was my weight class. It was like God was showing me where I was supposed to be and it wasn’t bussing tables. So I’m still looking at the screen, then I say, “Yeah, this is what I do. I’m going to be on the next Olympic Team.” And it got so quiet in there as if I’d said the worst thing ever, like I wasn’t supposed to dream and believe in it. But that’s when I knew I was supposed to be an Olympian.
Bonham: How did you get into weightlifting and what about the sport do you most appreciate and enjoy?
Farris: It was after the 1996 Olympic Games and USA Weightlifting was starting satellite programs around the country the country to find new talent and my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana just happen to be one of the cities chosen. My uncle Kevin Burns read about the program in the newspaper and thought it would be a good idea for my cousin, my brother, and I to learn how to do some lifting the right way since we were already playing sports. I appreciate the discipline and goal setting I’ve learn through this sport and being able to travel to across the country and the world is a major plus. I’m well cultured and more aware of life because of my sport.
Bonham: Can you briefly talk about your faith journey?
Farris: I was raised in a Christian home but I believe you don’t become a true follower of Christ until you get a bit older and start to experience life for yourself. That’s when you get to apply what you’ve been taught. From about the age of 16 to 22 is when I struggled the most, even after making an Olympic Team. In 2008 I was living the lifestyle when it was convenient for me but by the end of the year I had rededicated my life to Christ and I haven’t looked back. Being a Christian is a lifestyle. It’s about getting better everyday, loving people where they are, and setting the example for the world to see the truth.
Bonham: How has your faith in God specifically helped you deal with the challenges you’ve faced as an Olympian?
Farris: I’ve truly humbled myself over the past couple of years and I’ve learned about the power we have as believers. Jesus said we would do greater works and I believe that. I don’t get bent out of shape about everything that happens in life. I understand that there is a season and a time for everything.
Bonham: What are your individual expectations for the Olympics in London?
Farris: I expect to open some eyes, I expect to make history, and I expect people to see God move in a major way.
Bonham: What are your expectations for what God might be doing collectively through Christians looking to minister to those attending the Olympics?
Farris: The world will be tuned in and they will see and hear the truth from the world’s best and it’ll be up to each individual person to take advantage of the opportunity.
Read more about the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics in the July issue of Charisma Magazine.
And check out Chad Bonham’s latest book Glory of the Games that features 18 past and present Olympians such as Shannon Miller, Tamika Catchings, Josh Davis, Ryan Hall, Dave Johnson and Kevin Durant discussing various biblical principles that have helped them succeed as elite international athletes.
You can also find a wealth of great information about the Olympics and the US Olympians by visiting NBCOlympics.com and TeamUSA.org including photos, videos, bios, news stories, results and much more!