Rio Olypmpics witnesses of faith

Testimony of Sarah Brown
   She was preparing to represent USA at the Olympics in Rio in the race of 1500 meters when she becames pregnant. She and her husband did not hesitate. This is part of a letter she wrote to her baby,
   "I want you to know ... from the moment I knew you were in my life, I realized that you are the best that God has given me. I know that He entrusted you to me for a reason and from that moment I have protected and loved you.
   I have had the privilege of traveling the world doing what I love ..., to represent our country as a member of the track team USA. ...But I want you to know that you'll always be my greatest experience and that to be your mother will be without doubt my greatest achievement.
My efforts to keep training for the Olympics could never be compared with my determination to be the best of mothers for you."

Ryan Murphy, 3 Olympic gold medals swimming:
   “Catholic education was always important to me and my family,”
   Murphy and his family attend Mass weekly at their parish, Our Lady Star of Sea, whenever he returns to Jacksonville. He served as an altar boy there for three years.
   A particularly poignant moment occurred at the Olympics after Murphy won his gold medal in the 200-meter backstroke. All the cameras were on him when he exited the pool and genuflected in prayer.
   “My mother always reminds me to ‘thank before you petition’ during my prayers and I try to keep to that.”
   In describing his faith, Ryan spoke succinctly and to the point: “I’m a firm believer in God. My faith is important to me."
   “I believe God has given me a great talent for which I’m eternally grateful. My faith gives me comfort despite the outcome of a race. I ultimately believe ― I know ― God has a larger plan for me.”
   “God has given all of us free will and I hope always to live my life based on his will. Prayer and aligning oneself with God’s will is the best way to navigate problems one finds in life.”  source

An Olympic Moment some called "Amazing GRace"
Abbey D'Agostino of the United States collided with Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand
in a women's 5000m qualifying race. In what is being heralded as "true Olympic spirit", D'Agostino jumped back on her feet and appeared ready to race on. This is the Olympics, mind you. But then she looked down and saw her rival from New Zealand, writing in pain.

Then she did the unthinkable—she stopped. She stopped and helped her opponent up. Hamblin later described it this way in Christianity Today:

"That girl is the Olympic spirit right there," Hamblin said of D'Agostino. "I went down and I was like 'What's happening? Why am I on the ground?' "Then suddenly this hand on my shoulder, like 'Get up, get up, we have to finish this' and I was like 'Yep, yep, you're right. This is the Olympic games – we have to finish this.' "I've never met this girl before, and isn't that just so amazing?"
Hamblin continued: "Regardless of the race and the result on the board, that's a moment that you're never, ever going to forget. The rest of your life, it's going to be that girl shaking my shoulder, like 'Come on, get up'." Hamblin later told a New Zealand radio station: "When I look back on Rio 2016, I'm not going to remember where I finished, I'm not going to remember my time... but I'll always remember that moment."
After D'Agostino helped Hamblin up the two started together, but it turned out that D'Agostino was the one who had done terrible damage to her leg. Her ACL was torn. The two hobbled on. They finished 29th and 30th and embraced just past the finish line.
   Abbey was quoted as saying: Although my actions were instinctual at that moment, the only way I can and have rationalized it is that God prepared my heart to respond that way,”  “This whole time here he's made clear to me that my experience in Rio was going to be about more than my race performance — and as soon as Nikki got up I knew that was it.”
   ... I know there's often criticism of athletes praying before a competition, or thanking God for their victory. I like to think this is why we should pray before a sporting event. Not that God will favor us with victory, but that we will be aware of His presence and have the Grace do what He would have us do.
   I truly believe the world is thirsting and starving for Christ. And one amazing and loving act of Christianity can change hearts. It can change everything.


Simone Biles,19, Team USA Gymnastics, Gold medalist.
First female to win 3 straight world titles

   Simone Biles is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. Before being adopted by her maternal grandparents at the age of six, she was placed in foster care because of her mother's battle with addiction. Years later, Simone worked to rebuild her relationship with her birth mother.
   The first female gymnast to win three straight world titles is a faithful Catholic who turns to the Lord before each performance. "Before a big event, I usually go to church and light a candle for St Sebastian, who is the patron saint of athletes."

Dominique Dawes,Retired USA gymnast, three-time Olympian, proclaims her Faith
 The New York Times interviewed Olympian Dominique Dawes, she was asked: If you could have dinner with one person who is no longer living... who would it be?
She responded by saying, “I would choose to dine with Mother Angelica.”
“I’d ask her to say the blessing, then proceed to ask her a few things about her life and about fortitude.”
   Dawes converted to the Catholic faith at the Easter vigil in 2013. Source

David Boudia, 27, Team USA Diver
He credited the foundation of his newfound faith when winning a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
   "In 2008, diving was my god. It was a forced competition," he said in a 2012 Beliefnet report. "(Now) It's more about what I'm doing to share my purpose but not forcing it on people. God is providing this platform so He can reveal Himself."

Allyson Felix, 30, Team USA Track & Field
   "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," "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 stops loving me."
   "I'm currently a work in progress and like anyone else I face struggles every day. My goal is to be more Christ-like each and every day and that is not an easy task,"
   "I know that I'm trying to be something different from [other Olympic runners] and after I run I hope that people can distinguish [Christ-like] character in the way I present myself."

Trayvon Bromell, 21, Team USA Track & Field
   He has John 3:30 posted as his Twitter bio.
   Bromell suffered hip, knee and forearm injuries as a high school athlete. Then a tear in his achilles tendon. His carrer seemed to be finished. God had different plans.  
   He said to NBC "I came in here banged up a little bit, but I knew God healed me, so I just had to run my race. I know God can make anything happen. So my mom told me that it was healed. She said, 'God took care of it. And so He did."

Tobin Heath, 28, Team USA Soccer
Two time gold medalist
   "If you see being a role model as a platform where you can pour into others for Jesus with love, that's where I want to be. Becoming known or noticed in my sport isn't what's drives me to work hard and want to be the best I can be, It's Jesus. That's why I play. I play to glorify Him."
   "I try to keep that as my motivation when I step out on the field every day whether it's practice or a game."  "It's to work as hard as I can in thankfulness for what He's given me and hopefully some of that can come back to Him."

Michael Phelps, 31, Team USA Swimming
   The most decorated Olympian with 22 medals in three Olympic games.
   He struggled with fame, substance abuse and family issues in 2014, which led him to consider suicide. However, his Christian friend and fellow athlete Ray Lewis gave him the book The Purpose Driven Life by Pastor Rick Warren.
   Phelps says that the book enkindled his newfound faith.
   "It's turned me into believing that there is a power greater than myself and there is a purpose for me on this planet…I think it helped me when I was in a place that I needed the most help," Phelps told ESPN.

Gabby Douglas, 20, Team USA Gymnastics
At 16, she became the first woman of color in Olympic history to win an individual all-around competition. She gives the credit to God who gave he the talent.
   She praises God for overcoming homelessness and a life threatening illness at a young age.
   "It was definitely important for me to praise God because he's given me this God-given talent to go out there and represent him and share my faith with everyone," Douglas previously told The Christian Post. "I mean I'm not going to hold it in because he's blessed me so much throughout my gymnastics career. He's woken me up every single morning and he's just been so great to me, so I'm going to go and share it with everyone because it's a part of me and it's just who I am."

Laurie Hernandez, 16-year-old gymnast for the United States.
She suffered a dislocated kneecap, fractured elbows and wrists, a patellar tendon tear and an injury that left her unable to eat solid food for nearly a month.
   She acknowledges that what really helps her is her faith in God and prayers she offers him regularly.
   According to Christian Post, Hernandez said: "Usually, before I salute the judge I'm able to just grab the event and I pray on it and that really grounds me. For some reason, once I do that, I am able to think clearly and I'm able to calm down right before I compete."
   Her mother says, "She'll send me Bible verses in the morning - she always does - she's always reminding me not to forget to pray: 'I hope you remember to pray before you start anything. If you don't start your day off with God, then why are you doing anything today?"

Missy Franklin, 21, Team USA Swimming
Gold medalist, 2012
She first qualified for the Olympic trials at the age of 13. Then she participated in the 2012 Olympic games and became the first female to qualify for seven Olympic events.
   She told Charisma Magazine about the 2016 Olympic games: "Once every four years, athletes, families, friends and fans come together from all over the world. I know God will be there and I hope many of the people there will also feel His presence. He will offer us the opportunity to appreciate and love our similarities and differences."

Novak Đoković - Serbia- is the world's No. 1 tennis player in singles
He describes himself as a "person of faith" and offers the Lord a prayer and thanks prior to each meal.

Osea Kolinisau - 30-year-old Rugby team captain from Fiji Islands.
The entire team formed a circle after winning the gold medal and sang giving open praise to the Lord.  
  "First of all, I thank the Lord, he has been our source of strength,""Our faith in God is really, really strong and we know he's our source of strength[.] Without Him on our side we couldn't have done what we did." Osea told SUNsports.
   "...Before we came in we told each other 'let's be strong, if you are weak then I'm going to help you. If I'm weak you help me' and we play for our country, for our family, and especially for the Lord we serve."
   "I'm just thankful to God, the Bible verse that comes into my mind is 'No eyes have seen, no ears have heard what God has prepared for those who love Him.'"

Anna Van Der Breggen, a 26-year-old Netherlands cyclist
"On the bike you're quite vulnerable. That proved last year when I broke my pelvis during the World Cup. Something like that can have major consequences: perhaps you never cycle level. Still, I felt calm as I thought, God is there, even when things happen. Personally, I also think that believing is not something you do only in the church. Of course, you'll get important input, you hear things that you did not know, the Bible is explained and you are just a short break in the hectic week.
   But believe it is much more. For me it's in little things: pray, your dealings with others, enjoy what God is trying to make clear to us, that you think about each other, that you love one another, that you are doing the right things. In cycling values I try to carry out every day."


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