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For many track & field Olympians, prayer is key

EDITOR’S NOTE: Tim Ellsworth, editor of BP Sports and director of news and media relations at Union University, is in London to cover the 2012 Olympics in tandem with Baptist Press’ London bureau. Baptist Press will publish features about Christian athletes in the Olympics, recap results of their competition and cover Baptist initiatives to share the Gospel during the Summer Games and in London’s rich cultural milieu.

LONDON(BP) — Olympic track and field competition began over the weekend, with several Christian athletes earning medals or advancing into the finals of their events.

Sanya Richards-Ross, who identifies on Twitter as a “Christian, wife, daughter, sister and friend,” won gold in the women’s 400-meter competition.

“I have dreamt of this moment for a very long time but nothing compares to this feeling!” Richards-Ross tweeted after her victory. “Never give up on your dreams!!!! God is good.”

Will Claye took a bronze medal in the long jump. Before each attempt, Claye can be seen talking to God as he prepares for his jump.

“I’m saying a little prayer, just asking God to cover me and keep me healthy and allow me to have the biggest jump of my life.”

Claye, who will still compete in the triple jump, which he considers to be his better event, said he was pleased with the bronze.

“A lot of 21 year olds aren’t doing this in the Olympics, so it’s a blessing to even be here,” he said.

High jumper Jesse Williams cleared a height of 2.29 meters to qualify for the finals in his event, which will be Aug. 7. Williams said he and his two teammates, Jamie Nieto and Erik Kynard, prayed together before their competition. (For more Baptist Press coverage on Jesse Williams go to http://bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=38421.)

“It’s just in God’s hands,” Williams said. “Things happen really fast, and you can’t control them. You just have to let God control them.”

Williams said he was pleased with his showing in the qualifying round and felt confident heading into the finals.

“It’s always really difficult getting out of the qualifying round, and your mind’s racing all around the place,” Williams said. “When it comes down to it, it’s God’s plan, and you can’t worry about it at all.”

Other Christians struggled in their events. Stephanie Brown Trafton, who won gold in the discus in Beijing in 2008, finished 8th this year.

“I definitely knew it was going to be a fight for the top,” Trafton said. “There are girls throwing 70 meters this year.”

Trafton said despite the disappointing performance, she was trying to “rejoice in all things.”

“That doesn’t really feel good, but I’m actually pretty at peace,” she said. “I came here to win a medal. It didn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have something better in store for me in the future.”

Heptathlon competitor Hyleas Fountain, who won silver in 2008, withdrew from the competition before the final event.

“I know what God has put me on this planet for,” Fountain said. “It’s to be a role model for kids, and that’s exactly what I do. Everything is for God. Whatever I get, I accept, because I know that God has put me in this place for a reason. Even if it’s to win gold or not to win gold, I know I’m doing something great in His honor.”
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    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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