By Christine Thomasos — Originally published in Christian Post
Christian athletes were a major part of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, and Team USA’s athletes managed to bring home multiple gold, silver and bronze medals across a wide range of sports.
Although many athletes utilised their faith while training and competing, here are nine Christians who managed to bring home a coveted medal from the Olympic Summer Games.
1. Gabby Douglas, Gymnastics, 2 gold
Gabby Douglas may only be 16, but she took the world by storm when she became the first African-American gymnast and first woman of color to become the individual all-around champion in Olympic history. While some debated about Douglas’ choice of hairstyles, the gymnast went on to win gold medals in both the individual and all-around team competitions while glorifying God in the process.
“We are the 2012 London Olympic Gold Medalists!!! We are all so happy right now,” Douglas wrote on her Facebook page after winning big. “It’s a dream come true! Gotta give God the Glory! Thank you everyone for praying for me!”
While Douglas has spoken to the media about praying before her competitions, she decided to tweet before winning a gold medal for her all-around competition.
“Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things He does for me,” she tweeted.
2. Missy Franklin, Swimming, 4 gold, 1 bronze
Missy Franklin may only be a high school student, but the 17-year-old Olympic medalist is also a record-breaking swimmer who currently holds the world record in the 200-meter backstroke. Franklin also holds the world record in the 4×100-meter medley relay and earned four gold medals and one bronze for her performance in the 2012 Olympics.
Although some athletes attribute great coaching, discipline and training for their success, Franklin has been vocal about crediting God for her achievements.
“God is always there for me. I talk with Him before, during and after practice and competitions,” Franklin said in an interview with Beliefnet before she became a record-breaking Olympic medalist. “I pray to Him for guidance. I thank Him for this talent He has given me and promise to be a positive role model for young athletes in all sports.”
3. Aries Merritt, Track & Field,1 gold
Aries Merritt, 27-year-old Olympic track and field athlete, managed to bring the US its first gold medal in the 110-meter hurdles since 1996 with his recent win at the 2012 Olympics. The hurdler admitted that earning his medal was no easy feat.
“I trained for this intensity,” Merritt told the press after his big win. “I thought if I treat it like practice then I could do ridiculous things. I execute so well and when I practice there’s no pressure, so if I can treat it (the final) like a practice then there’s no pressure.”
Instead of taking pride in his own accomplishments, Merritt chose to take to his Twitter account to glorify God and all of the people who believed in his dream.
“Words can’t even explain how I feel right now! Giving God all the glory,” Merritt tweeted after his big win. “Thanks to all that supported and believed in me. #olympicgold.”
4. Lauren Cheney, Soccer, 1 gold
Laura Cheney, 24, may not have been the star player on her team, but the forward turned center midfielder managed to overcome an ankle injury, and come off of the bench to help her team win a gold medal. After months of Team USA coach Pia Sundhage calling for Cheney to be more aggressive in various media reports, Cheney seemed to finally adjust to contributing to her team in a new position after a trying transition period.
Cheney, a Christian athlete who featured the Bible verse 2 Chronicles 16:9 on her Twitter biography, has been vocal about maintaining her faith whether her Olympic performance resulted in a gold medal or not.
“Our lives are completely full of highs and lows. I’m so grateful that my confidence in Christ is never shaken,” Cheney said in a previous BeliefNet report. “My identity in the Lord will never be shaken. My career will come and go but being faithful to that has made my relationship with Him what it is.”
Vincent Hancock(Photograph: Twitter/Vincent Hancock)Vincent Hancock is an Olympic shooter who brought Team USA a gold for his record breaking performance.
5. Vincent Hancock, 23, shooting, 1 gold
Vincent Hancock is fighting for his country in more than one way as a sergeant in the US Army and as a record-breaking Olympic shooter. The 23-year-old recently earned a gold medal after hitting an Olympic skeet record 148 of 150 targets over a period of two days while hitting a perfect 25 of 25 in the finals.
The sergeant was grateful to represent his country in the Olympic games and credited God for helping his accomplish the feat.
“Having the opportunity to come out here and represent my country, that’s what it’s really all about,” Hancock told the press after earning his medal. “God has given me the greatest opportunity in the world to represent my country on a stage this grand and especially to have this medal hanging around my neck again.”
6. Jacob Wukie, Archery, 1 silver
Jacob Wukie may have received a silver medal for his performance in the men’s team event with teammates Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski in the 2012 Olympic Games, but the 26-year-old archer said his identity is in Jesus Christ.
“You just kind of meet some of the other medalists they have there at the time, and it’s neat to meet people who are a little more well known..but also I’m hoping to be able to have maybe more opportunities to kind of speak and share Christ with people,” Wukie told Athletes in Action. “While for a long time archery has been a very big part of what I do, my identity is in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
While Wukie is making a name for himself as an archer and Olympian, he insists that the reason he can perform at such a high level is centered in his faith.
“Since I am confident that He is in control and has a plan for my life, I am able to give my best and let the rest lie in His hands,” Wukie said. “He has given me the talents and abilities that I possess; He has taught me to love those around me and what it means to push hard.”
David Boudia(Photograph: Twitter/David Boudia)David Boudia is a member of the U.S. National Diving Team who earned a Bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics.
7. David Boudia, Diving, 1 bronze
David Boudia, 23, is no stranger to the Olympic games after making a stint in the 2008 Olympics Games in Beijing. However, Boudia admits that he was depressed during his first appearance at the sports festival four years ago before committing his life to Jesus Christ.
Now, the bronze medal holder has included Psalm 115:1 in his Twitter biography, and said that people have noticed a change in him.
“It’s such a radical change. I’ve known these competitors from around the world, and they’ve known what I’ve done and how I acted throughout the years before I met Christ,” Boudia said in a Baptist Press report. “The next thing they know, here’s David talking about Jesus or saying ‘Praise God’ or something like that, and they definitely notice.”
Before winning his coveted medal, Boudia put all of his trust in God to determine the outcome of his performance.
“Whatever happens at the end of this Olympic Games is completely out of my control,” Boudia said. “God is totally sovereign over everything.”
Sanya Richards-Ross(Photograph:Twitter/Sanya Richards-Ross)Sanya Richards-Ross earned a gold medal after winning her 400 meter event in the 2012 London Olympics.
8. Sanya Richards-Ross, Track & Field, 1 gold
Before listing herself as an Olympian, wife or mother, Sanya Richards-Ross describes herself as a Christian on Twitter. However, the 27-year-old track and field athlete proved that she is much more than that after winning a gold medal for her performance in the 400-meter event at the 2012 Olympic Games.
While Richards-Ross, the wife of NFL defensive back Aaron Ross, is no stranger to competing at a high level after earning two gold relay medals in 2004 and 2008, she credited God for making her recent dreams come true.
“I have dreamt of this moment for a very long time but nothing compares to this feeling! Never give up on your dreams,” Ross exclaimed to her fans on Twitter after her big win. “God is good. I wish that I could have this moment for life… # Operation Gold complete!”
Marlen Esparza(Photograph: Twitter/Marlen Esparza)Marlen Esparza was the first ever United States women’s boxing Olympian who earned a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic games.
9. Marlen Esparza, Boxing, 1 bronze
Marlen Esparza may be the first woman to ever compete for Team USA in the Olympic Games, but the Christian six-time national champion is glorifying God instead of her accomplishments after scoring a historic medal in London.
“All honor and glory goes to God. That simple. I’m just blessed to be on the ride,” Esparza tweeted. “It could have been anyone..#blessed.”
While many people around the world witnessed the Christian athlete make history, she has been focusing on sharing her outlook on life by putting God first.
“Love God, love what you do, and love yourself,” she tweeted. “You can’t go wrong with that.”
The 23-year-old Christian has been vocal about her faith throughout training and even shared Scripture with her followers on the social networking website while preparing for her bout.
“Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully… #watch,” Esparza tweeted, referencing 2 John 1:8.