LIFE HAPPENS - BE ENCOURAGED, IT AIN’T OVER YET!
My Story: Olympian and Chaplain
1980 would have been my fourth Olympiad to participate in as a U.S. Team member. It wasn’t the COVID-19 threatening the world then, but it was WAR between Russia and Afghanistan overshadowing the Olympics. The U.S. was threatening to boycott the Games because the host country, Russia, was not to be in war while hosting the Olympic Games, a time where worldwide peace was to be upheld among the nations. Competition was to take place on a fair field of play.
I remember the daily limbo I found myself in. Should I train or should I wait and see what is going to happen next? The question haunting me was “What if we don’t go and I’ve sacrificed all this hard work for nothing? But what if at the last minute, the doors open for me to compete and I’m not ready physically to be at my best?” I decided to keep on training, after all, that’s all I knew to do. To be honest, I recall days when I was on the track asking myself, “Why are you doing this and for what reason?” I felt so much mental stress and anxiety.
The Olympic Trials were fast approaching. I remember thinking, Okay, get ready for the Trials because this might be your last hurrah! Besides that, you can’t boycott the Games unless you have a team qualified to represent your country. I began to remind myself that I was born with God-given athleticism and I had vowed to worship God through my sport by giving my all and being who He created me to be in this world. AN ATHLETE and a darn good one at that!
My decision to press forward no matter what, paid great dividends. At the Olympic Trials, I made my fourth U.S. Olympic Team, broke my Olympic Trials record in the 800-meter run with a first-place win, was named the Most Outstanding Female Athlete of the Meet and was chosen by the athletes to be Women’s Team Captain. Later, at the White House, I was chosen by the Olympic team captains to give a response on behalf of the U.S. Olympic Team to the Presidential address to the American people on the steps of the Capitol. The Track and Field Team flew over to Russia after the Games to compete against the Russian team. (in 1984, the Russian team repaid us the favor by boycotting the LA Games, then coming over to compete afterward). We then travelled and competed on a world tour. Just as life looked its bleakest and I felt the death of a dream, I was reminded of my purpose in life. God had not brought me this far to leave me in this dark hour. A Scripture in the Bible that I live by is “I will praise Him because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and my soul knows it right well.” (Psalm 139:14)
I want to speak to you, my dear Olympic and Paralympic peers. Never forget, you were born with a God-given purpose that can never be taken from you. Move forward in life and be what you were created to be. NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER GIVE IN, AND NEVER RUN AWAY from life’s challenges. You’re an Overcomer and The Best is Yet to Come. If you need to talk, here are a few names of Olympic Chaplains to contact:
Dr. Madeline Manning Mims Oly firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephanie Brown Trafton Oly email@example.com
Kristina “Koz” Landa Oly firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. John Ashley Null Oly Chaplain email@example.com
LOVE AND PEACE COMFORT YOU