The Winter Olympics are an exciting time for the world to come together in sportsmanship, and the 2018 Olympics in South Korea are no exception. Many athletes use this international stage as an opportunity not only to participate in the global community, but also to share their faith while the spotlight is on them. Here are five Team USA Olympic athletes who are living their faith in PyeongChang:
Kelly Clark - Snowboarding Halfpipe
PyeongChang is Clark’s fifth Olympic games, a massive accomplishment in and of itself - she is the first US Olympian with such a record. She’s won one Gold (2002) and two Bronze medals (2010, 2014). These amazing wins weren’t enough to fulfill Clark, though. She told Christian Sports Journal that four words she overheard when she was 20 years old changed her life forever: “God still loves you.”
Clarklater caught up with the girl who had spoken the words, explaining:
“Before then, I’d never really thought about God. But there was an undeniable stirring in me and I couldn’t ignore it. I thought being a Christian was about following rules and going to church and being good all the time, but this girl helped me understand that it’s about having a relationship with God. That was where things shifted for me.”
Maame Biney - Speedskating
Uganda born and U.S. raised, Maame Biney became the first African-American to qualify for the USA speedskating team just before turning 18 years old. This amazing accomplishment and her bubbly personality captured a lot of attention going into this Winter Olympics, and Biney is quick to give the glory to God. Biney’s already looking ahead to Beijing 2022. In the meantime, her spunky spirit and thankful heart are inspiring.
Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, Figure Skating
The Knierims are not only a figure skating pair, but a married couple, and commentators have been quick to point out their special connection during this year’s Olympic games. They helped secure the Bronze medal for the U.S. in the figure skating team event, but even before this accomplishment, the Washington Post points out, “They have already won.”
Why? Just a year and a half ago, Alexa Knierim underwent three consecutive surgeries for a life-threatening illness, something that could have kept her off the ice indefinitely. But instead, the Knierims kept going, earning not only a spot on the Olympic team, but an Olympic medal.
Alexa Knierim told Figure Skaters Online, “I may have lost a lot of faith in myself, but I grew with my faith in God. I have some insecurities now that I didn’t have before, but I’m able to work on it and move forward because I’ve shifted my focus and my attention to my faith instead of myself.”
She was also seen wearing a cross necklace during her performance in the team event.
Elana Meyers Taylor (and Nic Taylor), Bobsled
Elana Meyers Taylor is representing the USA as a member of the women’s bobsled team, but her husband is also accompanying her to PyeongChang with multiple roles. Nic Taylor is an alternate for the men’s bobsled team, but he’s also Elana’s trainer (and biggest cheerleader).
The couple’s pastor, Ryan Schneider, told the Fellowship of Christian Athletes that Nic’s support of Elana in sports and in life is “the perfect picture of a husband loving his wife like Christ loved the church.”
Elana has been featured in multiple Olympic commercials, and in 2016 she said in an interview: “We’re talking about the Olympics. We’re talking about trying to win the gold medal. All of these things can be overwhelming. But regardless of whether I win a gold medal or never compete again, I just have to trust that God has a plan for my life and I’m called to be his representative through the sport and outside of the sport.”
Gigi Marvin, Hockey
In interviews about her role on the USA hockey team, Marvin gets straight to the point. She told the Fellowship of Christian Athletes earlier this year, ““My mission is more than winning another medal or championship. It’s about sharing Christ and leading others to him.”
She’s won two Olympic Silver medals on the USA team, and five World Championship Golds. With that much bling, it would be tempting for anyone to get absorbed into a sport. But Marvin is clear on her priorities, saying, “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.”
The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics aren’t over yet! You can still watch the action (and catch up on highlights from these Christian athletes!) on NBC.