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Sprinter seeks platform for faith

BEIJING (BP)–Allyson Felix, a 22-year-old sprinter who won a silver medal in the women’s 200 meter in Athens four years ago, will compete in the event Aug. 19 in Beijing, aiming for gold as well as a platform for sharing her faith.

Her father, Paul Felix, is an ordained minister and a New Testament professor at The Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley, Calif., and a portion of the runner’s website, allysonfelix.com, details her faith.

“My faith is definitely the most important aspect of my life,” she wrote. “My dad is a pastor and I grew up in a very strong Christian home. Our family was very involved in our church.

“I came to know Jesus Christ as my personal savior at a very young age. Ever since then, I have continually been striving to grow in my relationship with God,” Felix wrote. “I was nowhere close to the perfect child. I had my share of difficult times along with some disappointing choices that I made, but thankfully God never stopped loving me.”

Named one of Time magazine’s “100 Olympic Athletes to Watch” in July, Felix is participating in a pilot program called Project Believe in which athletes undergo extensive drug testing that goes beyond the World Anti-Doping Agency’s guidelines. In light of Marion Jones’ doping scandal, some are looking to Felix to show that a woman today can excel at track in the Olympics without using drugs.

Coached by Bob Kersee, the husband and trainer of six-time Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Felix has been compared to track great Wilma Rudolph. Already she was the first U.S. track athlete to turn pro right out of high school, though she also completed a degree at the University of California.

“I’m currently a work in progress and like anyone else I face struggles every day,” Felix wrote on her website. “My goal is to be more Christ-like each and every day and that is not an easy take.

“In the season of my life that I am in now, I feel so blessed that God has given me the talent of running,” she wrote. “My running is an amazing gift from God and I want to use it to the best of my ability to glorify Him. I’m thankful that I have been given this platform so that I can share my faith with the world!”

In a statement submitted to Athletes in Action, Felix pointed to Philippians 4:6-7 as a passage she relies on these days. In the verses, the Apostle Paul admonished the Philippians not to be anxious about anything but to go to God with their concerns.

“That verse always [encourages] my heart when I am dealing with any kind of pressure, and throughout the struggles of life my faith calms my heart,” Felix said. “I try to stay in the [Bible] and I pray a lot, just talking to God. He provides my strength and wisdom.”

Furthermore, Felix told AIA: “I know my talent is from God. And that’s my purpose: to run to glorify Him.”
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach.

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