Going by the media coverage, it may seem like the 2021 Tokyo Olympics is all about the Megan Rapinoes, trans weightlifters, and non-binary gymnasts. But if you dig a little deeper into the competition’s rosters and medal winners, you’ll find that there are many humble and gracious Christians who are giving glory to God with their victories.
With U.S. female Olympic wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock’s gold medal win last week, the dark spell of woke athleticism seemed to evaporate for a moment. Here was an African American woman who went out of her way to thank God for her victory. She even exclaimed that she loved representing the USA. It was a far cry from the grousing of the scowling, purpled-haired soccer divas who hate the country they represent in their matches.
Thankfully Mensah-Stock wasn’t the only patriotic, God-fearing athlete who took home gold for her country. Several other champions refused to hide their Christian beliefs and wore them as proudly as they wore their medals. One American Olympic swimmer, Caleb Dressel, entered the upper echelon of the Olympic swimming greatness this past tournament, joining Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi in having won five swimming gold medals in one tournament. He’s also a devout Christian.
It was an incredible achievement, such that ESPN called Dressel “one of the biggest stars of the Tokyo Games.” But of course, the star swimmer chalks such victories up to God, not to his own merits. In a past interview with Christian outlet, The Baptist Standard, Dressel claimed that he swims in order to inspire other people to see God. “It’s the reason I’m in the sport — not just to go fast times, but to inspire people and show them where I find my happiness with what God’s given me,” he said. Well considering his talent, it’s clear that God has blessed him abundantly.
Dressel even has a favorite bible verse: Isaiah 40:3 -- "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Perfect verse for champion athletes.
Another gold medal winner at this year’s Tokyo Olympics, champion skeet shooter Vincent Hancock, claimed that he won because he fully accepted Christ into his life. Hancock explained in a recent interview that when he was younger he was a “nominal Christian,” but after meeting his devout Christian wife, he has taken his faith much more seriously and put full trust in God.
Before he used to attribute achievement to his own hard work, but now that dynamic has shifted. “When I was younger, I felt like, 'Hey, you know what? That's because I've worked really really hard,'" he said, adding, "Now, the older that I've gotten, it's because I've worked really, really hard by the grace of God and have the opportunities that He's presented me."
And the current holder of the women’s 400 Meter hurdle world record is a God-fearing woman. Sydney McLaughlin, who broke that record at last month’s Olympic trials, and won the gold medal for the women's 4x400-meter relay race in the Tokyo games, gave a moving and beautiful tribute to Jesus Christ on Instagram after winning the top spot last week.
“Let me start off by saying, what an honor it is to be able to represent not only my country, but also the kingdom of God,” McLaughlin stated, adding, “What I have in Christ is far greater than what I have or don’t have in life.” Wow. She also wrote, “I pray my journey may be a clear depiction of submission and obedience to God … He will make a way out of no way. Not for my own gratification, but for His glory.”
Wait, these are champion athletes at the biggest sports tournament in 2021? Pinch us because this level of humility and gratitude sounds too good to be true.