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Nancilea Foster’s next challenge: Olympic diving

EDITOR’S NOTE: Tim Ellsworth, director of news and media relations at Union University, is in Beijing Aug. 6-16 covering the 2008 Olympics for Baptist Press. Baptist Press will publish features about Christian athletes in the Olympics, give results of their competition as well as highlight and summarize the Summer Games. Also, Tim will blog throughout each day about his experiences with athletes, coaches and the Chinese people. He will continue his coverage from the U.S. from Aug. 17-25.

BEIJING (BP)–Nancilea Foster’s worst fear as a diver came true when she was 14 years old.

She was used to the flipping and twisting. In the middle of this dive, however, Foster’s head slammed against the board.

“It was a pretty bad accident,” Foster said.

Eight months later, it happened again. And since then, “I’ve had quite a few struggles with fear issues.”

Now 24, Foster has found the Lord to be faithful and patient as she has struggled through those fears. And she has recovered well. She makes her Olympic debut Aug. 15 in the women’s three-meter springboard competition.

“I would like to win a medal,” Foster said. “That’s my goal. But ultimately, my job is to go into Beijing and to do the very best that I can. Do my five dives to the best of my ability. That’s kind of my outlook going into it. I’m really looking forward to the whole experience of being able to give it my all.”

Foster’s athletic career began in gymnastics, in which she competed with her sister. But they soon switched to diving as an outlet for their competitive fires, and Foster excelled. A standout diver at the University of Iowa, Foster has won two Speedo USA Diving Spring National Championships as an individual and two more in synchronized diving.

“There are a lot of things that I love about diving,” Foster said. “I love being able to overcome the challenges that it presents. It’s shown weaknesses in me and allowed me to get stronger by overcoming those.”

But as much as she loves diving, the sport does not have top priority in her life. A native of The Woodlands, Texas, Foster was raised in a Christian home and became a believer herself when she was young.

Since then, her life has been characterized by a consistent, steady growth in her faith. She and her husband Matt are active members of Needham Road Baptist Church in Conroe, Texas, where Foster teaches children’s church.

“Her first passion is her faith in Christ and her walk,” said Dennis Parish, senior pastor of the church. “This is her fifth trip to China, and one of her greatest goals is to share Christ in every facet of her walk and life.”

One of the ways Foster tries to do that is in the way she conducts herself as a competitive diver. She tries to be an example and a witness to her competitors, as she recognizes that she has security in Jesus Christ.

“In that, it gives me a great deal of freedom, knowing that whether I perform at my very best or my very worst, that Christ will still love me and that my salvation is secure in Him,” Foster said.

Parish said Foster displays that kind of an attitude whether she wins or she loses.

“What a super young lady and a great Christian,” he said. “Nancilea’s passion and purpose this entire diving experience has been to allow God to use her to give Him glory and be a testimony in whatever accomplishments He allows her to achieve.”

    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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