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FROM THE OLYMPICS: Allyson Felix gets another silver in 200 meter sprint

BEIJING (BP)—Allyson Felix and other U.S. sprinters were unable to strike gold at the “Jamaican Olympics,” as some in the media have dubbed the individual sprint titles at the Beijing Games.

Felix earned the silver medal in the 200 meter Aug. 21 -– the same medal she won at the 2004 Games in Athens.

Jamaicans, led by Usain Bolt’s world-record performances in the 100 and 200 meters, won gold medals in all four sprint events, shutting out U.S. sprinters at the Olympics for the first time in 28 years.

“I’m disappointed not to get gold,” Felix, 22, said, according to an Associated Press report. Describing her race in the finals, she reflected, “The start was bad and the end wasn’t that great either.”

But, she noted, “I’m grateful for the silver.”

Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown won the gold with a time of 21.74 seconds, followed by Felix’s 21.93. Another Jamaican, Kerron Steward, won the bronze medal with a time of 22.00, just ahead of American Muna Lee’s 22.01. Campbell-Brown also won gold in the 100 meter women’s event.

Felix’s coach, Bob Kersee, commenting on the Jamaican sprinters, said, “I think the world has recognized that that island has a lot of talent.” Kersee said the Jamaicans “got caught in the zone that we couldn’t shake them out of.”

Felix, named one of Time magazine’s “100 Olympic Athletes to Watch” in July, wrote on her website prior to the Beijing Games, “I’m currently a work in progress and like anyone else I face struggles every day” and noted her intent to be “more Christ-like each and every day.”

“In the season of my life that I am in now, I feel so blessed that God has given me the talent of running,” Felix wrote. “My running is an amazing gift from God and I want to use it to the best of my ability to glorify Him.”

Her father, Paul Felix, is an ordained minister and a New Testament professor at The Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley, Calif.

In other news from the Olympics:

— One of NBC’s commentators called Stephanie Brown Trafton’s win in the discus the upset of the Olympics. Trafton acknowledged hers is “a true rags-to-riches story in the athletics world. Before this year I was not even a blip on the map of international discus throwers. This is truly a blessed year for me and I hope I can use this platform to be a strong mentor to other athletes in the U.S. Relaxation and patience were the keys for me to throw far. I was singing a Gospel song based in the Bible verse Joshua 1:9. This verse actually carried me to a winning toss and I knew that whatever happened at the end of the day I was not afraid of loss or success. Winning or coming in 10th place did not determine my worth as a person, but my worth in God’s eyes is much more than a gold medal.”

— Women’s 10-meter platform: Laura Wilkinson closed out her 15-year diving career by finishing in ninth place at the Beijing Games.

Wilkinson, 30, won the gold medal in Sydney in 2000 and finished fifth in Athens in 2004.

Two Chinese divers, Ruolin Chen and Xin Wang won the gold and bronze medals, respectively; Canadian Emile Heymans won the silver. Wilkinson was the only American among 12 divers in the finals.

“Even though it wasn’t the ending I wanted, I wouldn’t trade the last four years,” Wilkinson told the Houston Chronicle after the competition. “You’ve got to make up your mind before you dive to enjoy it. You’re going to walk away with certain memories if you make it good.”

Wilkinson’s coach, Kenny Armstrong, told the Chronicle, “She’s a great champion” who “left it all in the pool, like she always does, and she’ll come out of here with her head held high.”

Wilkinson and her husband Eriek Hulseman are active members of Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston.

Prior to the Beijing Games, Wilkinson told Baptist Press that God had given her a talent for diving “and I want to worship Him with it and glorify Him with it. I know I don’t have to win to do that. Whatever place I come in, He’s going to be glorified through that if I honor Him. I want to be a graceful winner and I want to be a graceful loser.”

After Beijing, she said, she intends to be more involved in the Laura Wilkinson Foundation, raising money to build a new facility for her diving team, and she and her husband want to have children.

— Men’s triathlon: U.S. triathlete Hunter Kemper, who recognized he competed in the Olympics because of God’s work in his life, finished seventh in the triathlon Aug. 19. Kemper’s final time of 1:49:48.75 was 55.47 seconds off the pace of gold medal winner Jan Frodeno of Germany. The silver medal went to Simon Whitfield of Canada, with Bevan Docherty of New Zealand winning the bronze.

Kemper was in fourth place after the swimming leg of the competition and in sixth place after the cycling. Kemper’s seventh place finish was the best Olympics showing of his career. He finished ninth in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

In an interview with Baptist Press prior to competition, Kemper had his sights set on glorifying God, saying, “I’m going to give Him all the credit” regardless of the results. Following his seventh-place finish in the triathlon, Kemper said, “It was a great day for me. I felt like I was soaring on wings like an eagle. The Lord carried me through. He blessed me so much today. My run fitness wasn’t quite there, where I wanted it to be. I think the maximum result would’ve been sixth. I laid it all out there today. I came off the bike in great position. I started the run well. It was a hot one, but I did all I could. That’s all I had.”
Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston, BP staff writer Erin Roach and Tim Ellsworth, who is covering the Beijing Olympics for Baptist Press.

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