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Great Olympic Moments that Have Nothing to Do with Sports

Doug Bender

August 12, 2021 | 3 minute read

Every four years (or five in this case) there are hundreds of Olympians hoping to step up on the medal podiums with tears, smiles, and pride at what they achieved. They hope their super rare combination of grit, genetics, opportunity, and more all come together to create a path where they can achieve Olympic greatness. And beyond just what the individual can achieve, most every athlete recognizes the host of support from coaches, trainers, parents, friends, and so many more who have helped make their dreams a possibility. But some athletes recognize that, win or lose, Olympic victory is still not enough. Why? Because there is a God who is still first, no matter what medal they win. He gives them the air in their lungs and a greater reward is still to be won above. Here are just a few of our favorite quotes from those athletes:


Tamyra Mensah-Stock, Wrestler, 2020 Tokyo gold medalist in women’s freestyle wrestling

With numerous accolades to her name everyone knew Tamyra to be a gold medal contender. But what she wants the world to know is that she’s nothing without God.

“It’s by the grace of God I’m even able to move my feet. I just leave it in His hands...”


Michael Andrew, Swimmer, 2020 Tokyo gold medalist in 4x100m medley

While Michael helped set a world record as part of the 4x100m medley, he had hoped to clinch several other medals as well. He came in 4th in the 100m breaststroke and the 50m freestyle and 5th in the 200 meter individual medley. But he’s realizing that the biggest lessons are sometimes in the losses.

“Although I may not have swum to the level I believe I was capable of, I realize my biggest wins and successes comes from moments like this. I’m so fired up for what’s to come! Too blessed to stress, and God is so good!”


Sydney McLaughlin, Track and Field- Hurdles, 2020 Tokyo gold medalist in 400 m hurdles and 4x400m relay

She came to Tokyo with a world championship win under her belt. She hoped to win gold and ended up with two plus a world record. But she knows that following God is the biggest win of all.

“What I have in Christ is far greater than what I have or don’t have in life. I pray my journey may be a clear depiction of submission and obedience to God. Even when it doesn’t make sense, even when it doesn't seem possible. He will make a way out of no way.”



Nicola McDermott, Track and Field- High Jumper, 2020 Tokyo silver medalist in high jump

She came to Tokyo as a relatively unknown competitor. But she knew that no matter what there is One who knows her and believes in her. FYI- he knows and believes in you, too.

“Thank you Jesus for placing a dream in me big enough to impact nations. ‘Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’ Psalm 139:16”

Simone Manuel, Swimmer, 2020 Tokyo bronze medalist in 4x100m freestyle

Simone came to Tokyo to defend multiple world championships and two gold medals at the Rio Olympics. But she understands there is another reward and a bigger plan still waiting for her, even if it's not with swimming.

“I’m in the midst of it, so I don’t quite understand it yet, but I know that God has a purpose and plan for my life. This may not be how I would have written my story, but I’m at peace knowing that God is the ultimate Author of my journey. He is always in control, and He always has much bigger plans for our lives than we can even imagine.”

Fiji Men’s Rugby Team, 2020 Tokyo gold medalists

You might have missed this one. After winning the gold medal the team came into a circle and sang “E Da Sa Qaqa,” in their language or “We Have Overcome,” which praises Jesus, as the one who gives victory. The lyrics translate to mean, “We have overcome / We have overcome / By the blood of the Lamb / And the Word of the Lord / We have overcome.” But just be careful clicking on the video, it’ll make you cry.

Check out more great quotes from Olympic and Paralympic athletes Scott Hamilton, Jessica Long, and Moralake Akinosun and how Jesus helped them overcome not just the competition but all that life threw at them.

Doug Bender

Doug Bender

Doug Bender is an I Am Second writer and small groups coach. He developed many of the small group tools found at and has coached churches, organizations, and individuals to use I Am Second groups to share the message of Jesus with their friends and family. He also works with I Am Second's parent organization, e3 Partners, as a church planter and pastor in countries such as Ethiopia, Colombia, and the US. Doug and his wife, Catherine, have four children: Bethany, Samuel, Isabella, and Jesse.

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