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Olympian says ‘thrill of victory’ must reflect ‘the right reasons’

ATHENS (BP)–Dan Browne will become the first U.S. Olympian in 32 years to compete in both the marathon and 10,000 meters this month in Greece. The last person to do it, Frank Shorter, won the marathon in 1972 and finished fifth in the 10,000 meters.

Browne would love to duplicate Shorter’s success. But regardless of the outcome, he holds forth an even greater goal.

“It’s my job to take what God’s given me and do the best I can with it,” Browne said in an interview with Baptist Press. “I do my absolute best to honor God when I run. I run with my full heart and soul. God decides who wins and loses ultimately.”

Browne, 29, grew up in a Christian household and made a profession of faith in Christ while he was in middle school. But it wasn’t until his college years at West Point that he became serious about his faith.

“I got baptized my freshman year of college at West Point,” he said. “That was a big step for me.”

Since then, Browne’s walk with the Lord has included active involvement with Athletes in Action, a Christian sports ministry, and in his home church, a a Presbyterian congregation in Portland, Ore.

That relationship with God has helped Browne overcome some of the struggles he faces as an athlete, such as selfishness and getting caught up in the pursuit of winning.

“I’ve learned that you can sort of attain as much worldly success as is out there, but if you’re not doing it for the right purposes, it’s kind of a hollow victory,” Browne said. “As much as I enjoy the thrill of victory, if I don’t do it for the right reasons it would not hold the allure that it does.”

Browne finished third in both the marathon and the 10,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials, earning himself a spot on the Olympic team. A self-described “long shot” in the 10,000 meters Aug. 20 in Athens, Browne thinks he has a greater potential in the Aug. 29 marathon.

If for no other reason, Browne would like to place highly to give himself more of a platform to share his faith. Winning “definitely gives you an opportunity to use some of your glory to honor God,” he said.

But win or lose, Browne is happy just to compete in the Olympics, and his chief desire is to glorify God through his performance.

Said Browne: “The way I compete, I want it to show what’s inside of me and why I run, and that’s for God.”

    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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