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OLYMPICS: A skater’s ‘extra grace’

VANCOUVER (BP)–With only 30 feet to go in her 1000-meter race at the U.S. speedskating championships in December, Rebekah Bradford’s Olympic dreams seemed to tumble away when she suffered a nasty fall.

Not only had her Olympic aspirations taken a hit — her pride had as well.

“I was pretty emotional in the raw moment of it,” Bradford recalled. “It was a pretty embarrassing experience. I tore a hole at the seam in the [rear] of my skin suit.”

Bradford was devastated. She had worked so hard and wanted so much to make the Olympic team. It was all over.

Or so she thought, until a referee approached her with a question that lifted her spirits. “Are you aware that you have a reskate?” the referee asked.

Bradford hadn’t even thought of that. The rules allow, at the referee’s discretion, for skaters who fall to be given a chance to skate again. Even with the reprieve and the second opportunity, given the circumstances, Bradford wasn’t hopeful that she’d be able to post the time needed to qualify for the Olympics. Kelly Gunther held the time of 1:17.12 that Bradford had to beat.

With friends and family cheering her on from the stands in Kearns, Utah, Bradford turned in the performance of her life. She skated a personal best, 1:16.36, to nab the Olympic spot up for grabs.

Earlier that day, Bradford had sent a prayer to a couple of friends that was her request of the Lord as she competed that day.

“I was asking God for confidence and to calm my mind,” Bradford said. “I want His name to be glorified out of asking the impossible. I also asked Him to put me in a position of extra grace.”

By “extra grace,” Bradford was thinking about strength and endurance to finish the last lap of her race strongly.

“I never thought it would mean extra grace to do a second race within a half-hour of my first race, and then skate a personal best on top of that,” Bradford said. “I never expected that God was going to answer my prayer in that way.”
Tim Ellsworth, director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., is covering the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver for Baptist Press.

    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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