A Nigerian athlete competing in the Olympics for the first time has revealed the importance of her Christian faith – both in the good times and bad.
Stanford University-graduate Idara Otu, running in the women’s 4×400 relay which begins on Thursday, was born in the US and only visited her native Nigeria for the first time earlier this year. There she experienced the high of qualifying for the Olympics, and believes God has been instrumental in bringing her to this stage.
‘God is the author and finisher of everything I do,’ she told 2K Plus International Sports Media outside Olympic Park in London. ‘My faith is very important to me. It’s been the rock of my training, the rock of my life.
‘Especially this year, God has really shown me what He can do with my talent. He’s opened a lot of doors for me that wouldn’t have been open without his help.’
Faith to cope with trials
Nevertheless Idara said having a faith does not immune you from disappointment: rather it can help you cope when things don’t go right.
‘It’s tough at times. Sometimes it’s as little as a workout not going well, not running as fast as you want to run, standards not being hit or plans not going well. You deal with that every day. It’s really just staying focused and believing in what the goal is.
‘Being a Christian or having faith in something does not mean everything is going to be easy. It just helps to give you the strength to overcome whatever obstacles that are in your way.’
The 25-year-old is equally realistic about what to expect later this week, despite Nigeria’s creditable track record in the discipline (the team won silver in 1996).
‘We have a lot of big shoes to fill, but we’re ready to handle those expectations,’ she said. ‘We just hope everyone comes together and stays healthy.
‘This is my first Olympic Games. Of course we want to be on the medal stand, but we want to compete well and bring pride and glory to Nigeria as a country.’
Whatever happens, her chief goal is to follow Jesus. Idara said she is inspired particularly by Psalm 37:4. (‘Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.’)
‘That’s really what I live by. Obviously I’m not perfect but I’m striving to be more Christ-like every day.
‘I always think if I’m delighting in Him, He’s going to give me what’s in my heart.’