The Olympic Games
The Olympics is not just a place where superb athleticism is showcased, it’s a domain for true bravery and internal strength that can never truly be measured. When you look up the definition of Olympian you’ll find that it says, “… of resembling, characteristic of, or suitable of the gods of Olympus; majestic or aloof.” An Olympian displays strength that is not average, it’s beyond belief and continues to astonish people. However, it’s important to realize that “characteristic of” describes an individual’s external and internal strength. The power that an athlete possesses goes further than how far or fast they can run, beyond how high they can jump, and surpasses how many points they score – an individual’s story makes up the true essence of the individual. Here are just a few of the stories behind Christian Olympians that inspire us.
Eric Liddell is featured in the true-life film “Chariots of Fire.” Throughout the film, Liddell’s heart God is exemplified because his faith in the Lord allowed him to prevail and gave him the strength to continue to run. In 1924 Liddell won a gold medal in the 100-meter.
In the film, Liddell’s character talks about his relationship with God and says, “… I believe God made me for a purpose … He also made me fast. When I run I can feel His pleasure.” Liddell openly acknowledged God as his Lord and Savior and the real reason he had the talent to compete in the Olympics. Furthermore, Liddell’s Christian faith reveals the humbling nature that Christianity can have on one’s life and how it can change your life.
Allyson Felix is one of the fastest women in the world – and she’s the daughter of an ordained minister who’s utilized her success in sports as platform to speak the gospel. In the 2012 Olympics Felix won a gold medal, two silver medals and three world championship golds. In an interview Felix said, “For me, my faith is the reason I run. I definitely feel I have this amazing gift that God has blessed me with, and it’s all about using it to the best of my ability.”
Felix has suffered through injuries, but doesn’t allow the setbacks to take over her life. In an interview with the LA Times Felix said, “I’ve also gained strength and experience. I feel like I can appreciate my sport now and the people in it and I feel like I’ve grown a lot.” Felix has continued to use her Christian faith as a foundation for sports diplomacy. In November 2014, Felix traveled to Brazil as a SportsUnited Sports Envoy for the U.S. Department of State – where she assisted with clinics, speeches and other events for 510 youth. Many of these individuals had disabilities or grew up from marginalized communities. The goal for Felix, and the program, was to remove barriers and create activities that benefit audiences with and without disabilities, and how sports can help individuals overcome adversity.
Dwyane Wade: In the 2004 and 2008 games, Dwyane Wade represented the United States in the Olympics. Wade is a devout Christian and his basketball number three displays his faith ever so boldly. The number three represents the Holy Trinity and he tithes 10 percent of his salary to his hometown church in Chicago. During Wade’s childhood, his mother Jolinda dealt with drug abuse issues and made a living distributing drugs – she served time in prison for her charges. After her release, Wade’s mother became an ordained Baptist minister in 2007 and formed the non-denominational Temple of Praise Binding and Loosing Ministry in Chicago. To pronounce his faith, and display support for his mother, Wade purchased a church for his mother’s ministry in 2008.
Wade’s Christian faith also serves as the platform for his philanthropic involvement within various organizations. He founded The Wade’s World Foundation, which provides support to community-based organizations that promote education, health, and social skills for children that are at-risk. In addition, Wade hosts several community outreach programs in Chicago and South Florida. The list of charities is endless, but Wade doesn’t do anything for recognition – instead he does it for the glory in God.
Lolo Jones is an Olympic hurdler and bobsledder who specializes in the 60 and 100 meter hurdles – making her one of the few athletes who have competed in both the summer and Winter Olympic Games. Jones is a devout Christian and often prays before competition and oftentimes talks about her faith on Twitter.
In a 2012 segment on HBO’s Real Sports, Jones revealed that she was a virgin, dates online, and struggles to maintain her virginity. In the segment she said, “If there’s virgins out there, I’m going to let them know, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life – harder than training for the Olympics, harder than graduating from college, has been to stay a virgin before marriage.” Jones’ strength is inspirational and displays how important Christianity is to her.
Jones also makes it a priority to contribute to charity efforts. Not only has she bought equipment for her alma mater, Roosevelt High School, but she has also provided relief to flood victims in Iowa.
Stephen curry first experience with United States national team was at the 2007 FIBA where he helped earn Team USA a silver medal and in the 2014 World cup he took on a larger role with the team – helping them to win.
Curry is very outspoken about his Christian faith. During his MVP speech he said, “People should know who I represent and why I am who I am, and that’s because of my Lord and Savior.” He also has said time and time again that he pounds his chest and points up because he has a “heart of God” and this action helps him to remember he plays for God. Curry has also expressed his faith by identifying one of his “Curry One” shoes with a lace loop scripted 4:13 – it references the verse saying, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Curry, alongside his wife and family, also make efforts to contribute to charities across the world. Through his philanthropic efforts, Curry strives to share his success with the world and to display a true heart of God.
Christianity at the Olympics
Christian Olympians change the world with their success and hearts of gold. These individuals possess strength and passion that changes the world. They never settle and look for ways they can use their attributes to make the world a better place. It’s probably safe to believe that God has enriched these athletes with a wealth of talent because they know the world needs more than medals and fame – the world needs real inspiration.