The extinguished Olympic torch officially ended the 2018 Winter Olympics. And for some Christian athletes, this year’s games were especially sweet — but they seemed to keep their wins in perspective.
U.S. freestyle skier and gold medalist David Wise had the words “I cannot fail because it is not my victory” written on his sleeve during the competition. “That is my way of reminding myself I am not here to glorify myself,” Wise said. “I am put on this planet to glorify God. He made me with the ability to do what I do, so when I drop into the halfpipe, I cannot fail.”
Wise, who won gold in Sochi in 2014, successfully defended his gold medal in the men’s half-pipe event, scoring 97.20 to edge his U.S. teammate Alex Ferreira at 96.40. The first two of Wise’s three runs were far from gold-medal quality, with Wise falling and his skis coming off. He needed a big performance in his third and final run to capture the gold.
“I said, ‘OK, if God wants me to do well in this event, then I’m going to be able to land this run. If He doesn’t, it’s all good, I’m moving on,” Wise said. “So I dropped in and did the run that I knew how to do.”
The U.S. women’s hockey team beat arch-rival Canada in the gold medal game, giving the Americans their first gold since 1998. “Joy’s the only word that comes to mind,” said Gigi Marvin, a three-time Olympian and at 30 the oldest American on the roster. Marvin scored during the shootout and also scored numerous goals to get the team to the gold medal match. But she says her mission is more than winning medals – it’s about reaching others with the Gospel.
“My mission is more than winning another medal or championship,” she told FCA Magazine. “It’s about sharing Christ and leading others to him. I know my worth is not found in what I can achieve in this game. Instead, my identity and value is only found in Christ, my Redeemer and Lord.”
Goalie Nicole Hensley is regarded by many as the best female goaltender in the United States. She says the most important thing she’s learned on the ice is how to trust God. “Looking back with 20-20 hindsight, obviously He had a plan in every single place that He put me. It is easy to say that now, but really it’s just taught me that through the hardships you have to trust in your faith,” she previously stated. “You have to be willing to be uncomfortable to either grow in your faith or grow as a person or player as well.”
“What this group has been able to accomplish is way beyond sport, and that is something that is never going to fade,” Marvin said about winning the gold in her third Olympics.
But for those who didn’t enjoy similar golden moments, especially those athletes who profess faith in Christ, the competition results aren’t the ultimate measure of their success.
“I know that regardless of what I do on the track, that I’m still loved by God and that it takes every single pressure away — because I know God is giving me success,” Canadian skeleton racer Elisabeth Vathje said (she finished ninth overall). “But I know that even if the success doesn’t come, it doesn’t change the way God sees me and the way I should see Him. So, it gives me peace in that I don’t have to fight for results for my worth.”