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Bobsledder’s hope for gold stretches beyond Olympic glory

TURIN, Italy (BP)–A gold medal is the ultimate goal for hundreds of athletes competing in the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

For some, the gold is validation of their status as the best in the world. They’ve worked and trained hard and they want the glory the gold provides.

For some, the gold is an opportunity to make a fortune through endorsements. Gold medals mean exposure, and exposure means big bucks.

For U.S. bobsledder Brock Kreitzburg, however, a gold medal has more eternal ramifications.

“It’s not to glorify myself but to glorify God, and to have more of an opportunity to share my faith with other people, and share the love of Christ,” Kreitzburg said. “That’s really my goal.”

A member of the U.S. four-man bobsled team, Kreitzburg was ready for his competition to begin today. Ranked number two in the world at the end of the past season, Kreitzburg and his three teammates are in seventh place after two heats on Friday, .49 seconds behind the leaders. The final two heats come Saturday.

“The Olympics for me have been exciting, but it’s been certainly a waiting game,” he said. “We train every day, but I don’t compete until the last two days of the games. I am getting so anxious. I’m jumping out of my skin.”

The down time for Kreitzburg has been fulfilling nonetheless, as it’s given him the chance to partake fully in the Olympic experience.

“It’s pretty cool to sit down with someone from Switzerland or Germany or Iran and be able to hang out with them and talk with them,” he said. “It’s a pretty good glimpse of what the world can and should be like. It’s a time I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

Still, Kreitzburg doesn’t see the Olympics as a chance to advance himself.

“It’s been quite a ride,” Kreitzburg said. “But any attention that I get I want to give it to God. Because honestly, without Him, I wouldn’t be here. God is really my stability. He is what I cling to when times are good or when times are bad.”

Kreitzburg says his relationship with God started when he was 11 years old, when his dad was diagnosed with cancer. Kreitzburg’s parents weren’t Christians, but he began praying for his dad every night.

His father passed away when Kreitzburg was 13, but that didn’t end Kreitzburg’s search. While attending a Catholic high school, he began to realize that he needed some sort of religion in his life. He started talking to some of the priests and asking them about Catholicism.

But he decided that wasn’t what he was looking for and it didn’t fill the emptiness he felt inside. He tried other ways to fill that void -– sports, friends, girls -– but none of them worked.

“The more I tried to fill the emptiness, the emptier I became,” he said.

It wasn’t until his sophomore year in college that Kreitzburg found what he was seeking. He played football for the University of Toledo and one night attended a team chapel service. Afterwards, he decided he wanted to talk to the chaplain a little more about God.

They set up a meeting later in the week, when the chaplain presented the Gospel to Kreitzburg.

“That night I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior,” he said. “That emptiness that I had was now filled with joy and happiness and peace.”

After college he attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary because he wanted to learn more about the Bible. He also served as a retirement home chaplain, which gave him a taste of fulltime ministry -– something he plans to do in the near future.

He doesn’t know for certain what that ministry will be, but Kreitzburg knows he has a passion for two things -– Jesus and sports -– and he’s looking for a way to link those two together.

Kreitzburg thinks a gold medal in Turin could help achieve that.

“Athletes today in our society are given such a platform,” he said. “People listen to them, regardless if what they have to say is worthwhile or not. My goal is to use the platform that I have and that I hope God will give me to tell people about Christ. I think my message is definitely worthwhile.”

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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