I Love the Olympics. I was born in an Olympic year , just a couple of days before the events kicked off – and the Olympics were happening in Canada (my home and native land). And s0 I have always been interested in these games that bring the world together. Now Canada, during those 1976 Olympics, were (and still are) the only host country to fail to win a single gold medal at the Olympic games that they host, and so while I do, naturally, cheer on all members of Team Canada, I also enjoy learning about the lives of other competitors and finding that I want them to be successful too. That being said, I will, over the course of the Olympics, be sharing some collections of stories that I find about Christians who will be competing in London during these next 2 weeks.
Let’s start with these stories.
First we have Brittany Viola– U.S.A. Platform diver.
Let’s start off with a local connection (local to Minneapolis – where I live now that is). Brittany Viola is the daughter of former major league pitcher Frank Viola. He was a long time Twin, Cy Young winner in 1988 and the MVP of the 1987 world series. His daughter will compete in London this summer and as you can read in this story from Athletes in Action, she is looking forward to her Olympic experience. She has battled injury and an eating disorder. As she was getting treatment for the latter, a staff member at the center where she was getting help told her that ultimate healing would come from a relationship with God.
Next, we have another diver – David Boudia – USA Platform and Synchro Diver.
This will be David’s second Olympic Experience having also competed in Beijing in 2008. He was fresh out of high school and living life for himself. He was into the party scene as College started and feeling empty and unfulfilled in life. A time of hard partying left him calling out for help. His coach at Purdue, along with the coach’s wife told him about Jesus and His offer of salvation. Boudia accepted Christ and now faces the joys and struggles of life with this new found perspective. You can read his story, as told by Athletes in Action, here.
Gerald Phiri – Zambia – sprinter (100m & 200m)
Born in Zambia, and living in the Chicagoland area, Phiri has also spent time in South Africa and the UK as his father, Huggins, is a pastor and church planter and has journeyed to these places as he follows God’s leading. Phiri is competing for Zambia and hoping to put his homeland in the spotlight in London, but ultimately as you can read in this story, from Athletes in Action, that running to honor God is the reason behind his racing.
Phiri has known some success in his American Collegiate career and he knows that training and discipline are vital to that success. They are also vital to the Christian walk. As is a short memory. He talks about the need to forget when you have a bad race and focus on the next one. The same thing happens when we mess up in our Christian walk. Satan is always going to be trying to remind us of the things we’ve done and tell us that we are not good enough. We need to ignore that, get back on track and refocus on Christ.
Elodie Li Yuk Lo – Mauritius – Beach Volleyball
Growing up in Toronto Canada, where she moved at age 6, Elodie Li Yuk Lo loved swimming and softball dreamed of competing in the Olympics – likely in the pool. At age 12, she took up the sport of Volleyball, and was introduced to beach volleyball by a coach who recommended that players take it up so they could keep their skills sharp in the off-season. So she started playing beach volleyball, and took to it strongly. In 2006, hoping to qualify for the Beijing Olympics, she went to Mauritius looking for a partner, but came back empty. Missing out on Beijing, she kept looking and eventually found a partner in Natacha Rigobert -a Mauritius native living in France. They teamed up, and practiced together, competed together and qualified for London by winning the African Championship in Rwanda in May. She had found that sports often conflicted with going to church, but that with they didn’t have to be exclusive activities. She could worship God and build her faith while on the volleyball court. You can read her story here.
I found all of these stories through Athletes in Action – I really appreciate the work AIA does and the role they play in the lives of young athletes and the dreams that they have. I thank them for sharing these stories. here are some other resources that I will use as well. More to come in the coming days. Come back and check.