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THREE-TIME GOLD MEDALIST ALLYSON FELIX

TWO-TIME GOLD MEDALIST SANYA RICHARDS-ROSS

THE HEIGHTS OF LONDON STORIES AND INTERVIEWS FROM THE 2012 OLYMPIC GAMES THAT GO FAR BEYOND MEDALS

LONG AND TRIPLE JUMPER WILL CLAYE


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CONTENTS FEATURES

CLOSEUP:

Kayaking Closeup: Angela Hannah (p5); Track & Field Closeup: Oludamola Osayomi (p7); Cycling Closeup: Jo van de Winkel, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (p9); Cycling Closeup: Hunter Kemper (p11); Rowing Closeup: Richard Chambers (p13)

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AMERICAN DREAMER

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THE WILL TO WIN

Ryan Hall is one of the best distance runners in U.S.

history, but his outlook on winning and losing changed once he grasped a simple message from his dad BY RICK WEBER Triple jump silver medalist and long jump bronze medalist Will Claye competes without worry and fear

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U.S. GOLD MEDALIST GABBY DOUGLAS: ‘GLORY GOES’ TO GOD

Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

BY TIM ELLSWORTH

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Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

STORIES

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FAITH, FAMILY AND FAME

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RIGHT AT HOME

Two-time London gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross, wife of two-time Super Bowl champion Aaron Ross, shares perspective on faith, family and fame United States swimmer Caitlin Leverenz was right at home in London on her first Olympic squad, taking bronze in the 200-meter individual medley BY SCOTT MOTTIC

‘PREACHER’S KID’ ALLYSON FELIX WINS GOLD

Quinn Rooney / Powercross

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

BY TIM ELLSWORTH

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OPINION

U.S. DIVER DAVID BOUDIA, SURPRISING GOLD MEDALIST, CREDITS HIS FAITH Ronald Martinez / Rawsii

BY TIM ELLSWORTH

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ANOTHER ANGLE: Professor’s perspective

Paul Felix, father of three-time London 2012 gold medalist Allyson Felix shares his unique perspective when it comes to his daughter’s success BY STEPHEN COPELAND

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ANOTHER ANGLE

BY STEPHEN COPELAND

OPINION

stephen.copeland@sportsspectrum.com | Follow @steve_copeland

Professor’s perspective

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Nick Laham / Getty Images

aul Felix sees a different side of things. His daughter Allyson Felix, for example, won three track and field gold medals at the London 2012 Olympic games, the most any female track athlete had earned since 1988. But her most impressive feat, he believes, wasn’t her 200-meter victory, a race where she had disappointedly taken silver four years before in Beijing and eight years before in Athens…or her 4x100-meter relay gold…or her 4x400-meter relay gold. He was most impressed with her fifth place finish in the 100 meters in London. Fifth place, especially in America, is as irrelevant as rhythmic gymnastics, but her time in the 100 was a personal record. He was proud of her. “She won three gold medals, but people don’t talk about the fact she took fifth in the 100, which was a personal best,” says Paul, an associate professor of New Testament at Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley, Calif. “Everyone came out of the woodwork when she won the 200, but what she accomplished in the 100 was absolutely amazing. No one even picked her to run the 100, but she ends up taking fifth and running a personal best.” Maybe it’s a silly example, but that’s what I like about Paul Felix. He has an enlightening and convicting perspective on life that makes you question whether your own perspective is too narrow. And throughout Allyson’s entire career, that’s what he’s done: provided perspective in every situation for his family (his son Wes, wife Marlean and daughter Allyson), specifically in the 200 meters the last three Olympic games. The Olympic 200 has always hung over Allyson’s head like Steve Nash’s ring-less fingers. In the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Allyson took silver (as an 18-year-old, by the way), finishing behind Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown. Oddly, Allyson didn’t take a victory lap to celebrate her silver medal. When she saw her parents face-to-face that evening, she cried in her mother Marlean’s arms. “Shug,” Paul said, calling her by her nickname, “realize what you just accomplished.” He helped her see the positives. She was only 18. At the end of 10th grade, she had run against Marion Jones, and now she was here taking a silver medal in the Olympics. Not bad when most 18-year-olds are just trying to survive Algebra 2 and find a date to prom. “Once we helped her keep it in proper perspective, she realized that she really accomplished a lot,” Paul says. Allyson entered the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing heavily fa-

vored to win the 200 after taking gold in the 2005 and 2007 World Championships. But there was Jamaica’s Campbell-Brown, again, with a comfortable lead at the finish line. This time, though sobbing, Allyson took her victory lap. She famously cried in the basement of the Bird’s Nest stadium. In 2004, she was only 18. In 2008, she was favored…and she lost. “I know she was disappointed, but it wasn’t the end of the world,” Paul says. Again, he reminded her of what she had achieved. He reminded her that track and field doesn’t define who you really are. He reminded her that it’s not the end of the world and that she still had races to run. She entered the 2012 Olympic Games in London with another World Championship (2009) under her belt, longing for a resolution to her 200-meter Olympic woes. But there was Paul, again, helping her see what’s most important. He gave her a note before London. It said to get a gold medal—to attain her dream and take first in the 200 meters—but more importantly, the note encouraged Allyson to strive for gold in her personal life, her spiritual walk. “When I see an athlete accomplish something in the athletic world, it reminds me that God wants me to give that same thing in the spiritual realm…I want to do it for an eternal reap, something that lasts forever,” Paul says. “…The world that we live in, I just think that we have to keep our minds renewed and see things properly and see them from God’s perspective.” See, if I were Paul Felix, I think I’d be a little self-consumed after my daughter won the 200 and left London with enough gold that you’d think she mugged a leprechaun. I’d be as arrogant as Usain Bolt (okay, that’s exaggerated and impossible), pridefully talking about how I raised her, telling everyone that my daughter was the greatest female track Olympian in 20 years. I would ride her fame like a surfboard. But, like his excitement for Allyson’s finish in the 100 meters, Paul Felix sees things a little bit differently. “I’m excited she’s getting recognition,” Paul says. “But my wife and I have always said that our greatest joy is to hear that our children, Wes and AllyStephen Copeland is a staff son, are walking in the writer and columnist at truth. Go after winning Sports Spectrum magazine. a gold medal in your reHis column tackles sports lationship with Him. In and faith from another my mind, that’s far more angle, whether it’s important.” humorous, personal or controversial. SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2012

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CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW READ THIS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW THAT SPORTS SPECTRUM PARTNER 2K PLUS INTERNATIONAL SPORTS MEDIA HAD WITH ANGELA HANNAH

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OLYMPIC KAYAKING CLOSEUP

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Angela Hannah Great Britain Olympic Kayaker “I suppose some people would say, ‘You’ve always been a Christian, so you don’t know anything else.’ But, you’re definitely a human first, and there’ve been times in my life when I didn’t trust Him, actually been more angry with Him and done everything but spend time with Him; and it’s been a very depressing, distant time, and I suppose having Him in my life, it just gives me that purpose, and takes away all those things that tie you down in this world, and gives you the freedom to enjoy that as long as you’re working to the best of your ability for Him. That’s always enough. It means I can go on and enjoy myself and not have too much pressure.” Louisa Sawers, Angela Hannah, Rachel Cawthorn and Jess Walker (from left to right) of Great Britain finished fifth in the Olympic final at Eton Dorney in a time of 1 minute, 33.055 seconds.

W E B S I T E : w w w. S p o r t s S p e c t r u m . c o m

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CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW READ THIS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW THAT SPORTS SPECTRUM PARTNER 2K PLUS INTERNATIONAL SPORTS MEDIA HAD WITH OLUDAMOLA OSAYOMI

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OLYMPIC TRACK & FIELD CLOSEUP

Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images

Oludamola Osayomi Nigerian Olympic Sprinter “I realize that I can’t do anything without God. I have to pray hard. I have to stay focused because I know that it’s impossible for somebody to train hard and to be in top shape, because without God you can’t do anything.” The Nigerian team of Franca Idoko, Gloria Kemasuode, Halimat Ismaila and Oludamola Osayomi (from left to right) took the bronze medal in the women’s 4x100m relay final in Beijing, as seen in the photo. In London, she and her team finished fourth in the 4x100m relay final. Osayomi also finished fourth in the first round of the 100 meters.

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South African Olympic Cyclist

“If you have injuries...it’s not the end of the world. You can see the positives even in the tough times. And that helps me get through difficult times and reach higher, reach for what He has planned for my life.” Jo van de Winkel (right), South Africa, finished 28th in the women’s cycling road race and has been on some of the most successful teams in South Africa.

Ashleigh Moolman Pasio South African Olympic Cyclist “Through cycling, I’ve just realized, even to a greater extent, how great God is, and I really, really relied on my faith to keep me going. Especially when you have a year of three collarbone breaks, a space of 12 months, it’s really not easy, and if I didn’t have faith in God, I think I would have given up.” Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (far right), South Africa, finished 16th in the women’s cycling road race, placing as the top South African in the 2012 Olympics. Though injuries have slowed her down (she once broke her collarbone three times in 12 months), it hasn’t stopped her from excelling in cycling.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW

READ THIS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW THAT SPORTS SPECTRUM PARTNER 2K PLUS INTERNATIONAL SPORTS MEDIA HAD WITH JO VAN DE WINKEL AND ASHLEIGH MOOLMAN PASIO

Brian Lennon / Getty Images

Jo van de Winkel


OLYMPIC CYCLING CLOSEUP

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Hunter Kemper A FREAK CRASH, AN ONGOING INJURY AND A LOOMING OLYMPICS MADE TRIATHLETE HUNTER KEMPER REFOCUS HIS PRIORITIES

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verything was going so well. Hunter Kemper was roaring back. Injuries had sidelined the threetime Olympic triathlete for most of 2010. But he had claimed a International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Cup victory in Ishigaki, Japan early in 2011. And he won his seventh national championship in October. It was just the kind of momentum any athlete wants heading into an Olympic year. But sometimes adversity comes out of nowhere. This time it came out of the water. In October at Myrtle Beach, S.C., Kemper and another triathlete had a solid lead as they completed their first biking lap. Another competitor just completing his swim far behind the field entered the transition area—directly in front of the leaders. Both bikers swerved. Kemper slammed into the runner and went down hard at about 40 mph. His elbow broke and required surgery. He was forced to miss the Pan American Games. Other Olympic qualifiers were out. And a staph infection in the elbow required more surgeries, more recovery and more time away from valuable training. Would the Olympics be out too? Would Kemper’s lifelong dream of winning an Olympic gold medal be over? No. The dream lives for another Olympics after Kemper qualified for the London Games by finishing fifth at the ITU San Diego Triathlon in late May. He was the top American in the race. Kemper knows that hard times make insightful teachers, and he trusts that God is at work in ways that transcend human plans. “I think the biggest spiritual lesson I’ve learned is patience,” Kemper says. “My life verse is Isaiah 40:31, “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength, and it has recentered my focus on Christ and on what’s most important in my life. I think the crash brought back the reality that it’s by God’s grace that I’m out here.” But injury has also sharpened the competitor’s determination. Kemper has had difficulties before. He overcame serious injury in 2008 to earn the final American Olympic spot at the last possible moment. He’d have to do that again to earn his ticket to London. Olympic qualification in a triathlon is complex, but for London 2012 it all came down to one race on one day in May. Kemper’s was a long shot, but it was a shot. Kemper has always been the top American finisher since the triathlon became an Olympic sport in 2000. And he has placed higher every time: 17th in 2000, ninth in 2004 and seventh in 2008. At 36 years old, he knows this is probably his last shot at achieving his lifelong goal. “Trusting God and knowing He does have a plan for me—it hasn’t lessened the goal; I’m going to pursue it with all my heart and all my passion—but it’s given me new perspective on the goal that if I do not attain it, I’m okay,” Kemper says. “Ultimately as you grow older you’ve got to realize that triathlon can be taken away like that. Then what do I have? What’s important in life? For me it’s got to be my relationship with Christ.” - JEREMY V. JONES

FROM THE PAGES OF SPORTS SPECTRUM (VOL. 26, NO. 3)

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OLYMPIC CYCLING CLOSEUP

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CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW READ THIS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW THAT SPORTS SPECTRUM PARTNER 2K PLUS INTERNATIONAL SPORTS MEDIA HAD WITH RICHARD CHAMBERS

Chris Hyde / Getty Images

Richard Chambers Great Britain Olympic Rower “I’ve grown older, I’ve learned about more of who Jesus Christ is, what He wants me to do, and what it takes to be a follower of Him…(Being a Christian is) difficult, and especially in sport…I still follow Him. I still try to be the best for Him, but I don’t always achieve that. It’s the price He paid so that I can be where I am today.” Great Britain’s Richard Chambers, along with teammates Peter Chambers (brother), Rob Williams and Chris Bartley, helped Britain win its third Olympic rowing medal at the 2012 London Olympics by taking the silver medal in men’s lightweight fours. Although it was Richard Chambers’ first Olympic medal, he had won three medals at the World Championships, taking gold in 2007, gold in 2010 and bronze in 2011.

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Ronald Martinez / Getty Images


U.S. GOLD MEDALIST GABBY DOUGLAS: ‘GLORY GOES’ TO GOD BY TIM ELLSWORTH & DIANA CHANDLER

LONDON (BP) -- Gabby Douglas will soon have more money than she ever dreamed. With a vibrant smile and two gold medals to her credit at the Olympics, the 16-year-old gymnast undoubtedly will cash in with endorsement and marketing deals worth millions of dollars. At the top of her wish list? An Acura NSX. “I want the one like Iron Man’s off ‘The Avengers,’” Douglas said. “That was a nice car.” The fame and fortune that Douglas instantly captured may make some things easier, but they won’t remove the difficulties from her life. When she faces such struggles, she turns to Scripture. “God has given me this awesome talent to represent Him. Glory goes up to Him, and the blessings fall down on us,” Douglas said Aug. 5 in a press conference at the North Greenwich Arena. When she’s learning something new that may seem intimidating, she tells herself, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of peace, love and a sound mind,” she said. When she’s having trouble perfecting a skill, she quotes, “All things are possible through Him.” “You just mentally quote that, and it builds your faith up so much,” Douglas said. “God will never fail you. He’s always on your side.” Her first Tweet after winning the individual all-around read simply, “Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” Before Douglas left for London, Quintin Stieff, pastor of the Valley Church where she attends in West Des Moines, Iowa, likened her to a light that should shine to draw attention to God. Douglas shared her testimony with the congregation. “The glory goes all to Him. He’s waking me up every morning and He’s keeping me in the gym every day. That’s very important,” she said, asking her church family to pray for her to “bring home the gold.” Douglas made history, winning two golds in the first week of the Olympics -- one in the women’s individual all-around and one in the women’s team competition. She’s the first African American woman to win gold in the Olympic individual all-around, and the first American woman to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympic Games. While she couldn’t replicate that success in the second week, finishing eighth in the uneven bars and seventh in the beam, her performances will be remembered as one of the London Olympics’ biggest stories. Her face is already on a Kellogg’s Corn Flakes box. At age 14, Douglas left her family home in Virginia Beach, Va., to stay with a host family, Travis and Missy Parton, in West Des Moines, Iowa, allowing her to train with coach Liang Chow. Douglas’ mother Natalie Hawkins sends Douglas Scripture passages twice daily to keep her on track to victory, Douglas said. “When it was time for me to go to bed I would just put my earphones in and just fall asleep listening to the Bible,” she told the congregation. “It’s been a daily thing. I love reading about the Word. We have to put on the full armor of God, so when Satan tries to come against us, we are ready and prepared.” ” First published in Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com). Reprinted with permission. Tim Ellsworth, who was in London covering the Olympics for Baptist Press, is editor of BP Sports and director of news and media relations for Union University in Jackson, Tenn. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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Quinn Rooney / Getty Images


‘PREACHER’S KID’ ALLYSON FELIX WINS GOLD BY TIM ELLSWORTH

LONDON (BP) -- Allyson Felix finally got her gold. After winning silver in the 200-meter sprints in Athens and Beijing, Felix raced to her first individual gold medal in London Wednesday (Aug. 8), easily winning the event in 21.88 seconds. “I was in tears in Beijing, and gosh, complete opposite tonight,” Felix said after the race. “For it all to come together is just extremely special, I’m overjoyed. I was just thinking ‘be aggressive.’ It’s the Olympics, anything can happen. “I knew if I went out and ran my race it would come together,” she continued. “It felt good. I said ‘Thank you, Lord.’ It was relief, joy, just a flood of emotions, I don’t think it has all set in yet.” Felix, whose father Paul is associate professor of New Testament at the Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley, Calif., has consistently been a witness for Christ in her comments to the media. “Growing up as a preacher’s kid has really grounded me,” Felix said in a recent USA Today story. “I’ve grown up with these amazing parents who are hard workers, and they truly live out their faith. They’ve been amazing role models for me. I feel like I really picked up on what they taught me and kept that with me all along in my running and in my career. “For me, my faith is the reason I run. I definitely feel I have this amazing gift that God has blessed me with, and it’s all about using it to the best of my ability.”

First published in Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com). Reprinted with permission. Tim Ellsworth, who was in London covering the Olympics for Baptist Press, is editor of BP Sports and director of news and media relations for Union University in Jackson, Tenn. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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USA DIVER DAVID BOUDIA, SURPRISING GOLD MEDALIST, CREDITS HIS FAITH BY TIM ELLSWORTH

LONDON (BP) -- A 12-year-old David Boudia stood on the 10-meter diving platform for the first time, terrified to plunge into the water below. That’s the equivalent of a three-story building. The fear was understandable. “It took me the longest time. It took bribes from my mother,” Boudia said. “It took so long for me to get over that fear, but it had to be done if I wanted to accomplish dreams.” Boudia doesn’t have to dream anymore. The 23-year-old U.S. diver unexpectedly won Olympic gold in the men’s 10-meter platform event Saturday (Aug. 11). His 568.65 points edged China’s Qui Bo (566.85 points) and Great Britain’s Thomas Daley (556.95 points) to give the United States its first gold medal in men’s diving since Greg Louganis in 1988. Baptist Press previously featured a story on Boudia and his Christian walk. (Read it at http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=38360.) “Just looking back on this journey, it’s amazing to think where I was in 2008 to where I am now,” Boudia told NBC’s Al Michaels in a Sunday (Aug. 12) interview. “My faith is the most important thing in my life, and this is what’s brought me through this 2012 Games.” The medal was Boudia’s second of the Olympics, after he and Nick McCrory won bronze in the men’s 10-meter synchronized diving event. “The craziest thing is, I didn’t watch the competition at all, so I had no idea where I was placed,” Boudia told Michaels. “Going into my last dive, I had no idea it was as close as it was with the top three. I was just doing what I normally do in practice.” Boudia came up with his best dive of the competition when he needed it the most. Trailing hometown favorite Daley going into the final dive, Boudia posted a score of 102.6 to pass the British teenager. Qui’s final dive wasn’t enough to overtake Boudia. Boudia almost missed out on the finals entirely. In the preliminary round, the top 18 divers out of 32 advance to the semifinals. Boudia squeaked into the next round, placing 18th overall. In an interview with NBC after that first round, Boudia described it as a “terrible prelim.” “The coolest thing about this is that I know that God is perfect and sovereign, and if I made it, great,” Boudia said. “If I didn’t, great. I was totally content if I was on the bubble or out.” Such language from Boudia is a relatively new development. After competing in the 2008 Olympics, Boudia went to Purdue University, where he quickly immersed himself in the college party scene. For his whole life, he had been pursuing athletic glory as the ultimate achievement. But those pursuits proved hollow for Boudia, who became a Christian during college when his coach, Adam Soldati, led him to the Lord. Now instead of chasing glory for himself, Boudia only wants to chase glory for Christ. “Whatever happens at the end of this Olympic Games is completely out of my control,” Boudia said prior to the Olympics. “God is totally sovereign over everything. “It’s such a radical change,” he said. “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. The next thing they know, here’s David talking about Jesus or saying ‘Praise God’ or something like that, and they definitely notice.”

First published in Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com). Reprinted with permission. Tim Ellsworth, who was in London covering the Olympics for Baptist Press, is editor of BP Sports and director of news and media relations for Union University in Jackson, Tenn. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp). Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

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FROM THE PAGES OF SPORTS SPECTRUM (VOL. 26, NO. 3)


RYA RUN N HAL ON NERS L IS O GRAWINN IN U.S NE OF SPE ING A . HIS THE D T B N BY RIC A SIM D LOS ORY, B EST D KW IS U P I EBE LE ME NG CH T HIS TANC R SSA ANG OUT E GE L FROED ON OOK M H CE H IS D E AD

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n his dreams, Ryan Hall is running the Olympic marathon. In the final stretch, he leaves the cacophony of the streets lined with screaming fans and is the first runner to enter the tunnel leading to the Olympic Stadium. It is dark and eerie and deathly silent. He can hear his breath, his heartbeat and the pounding of his soles with every step. Then he emerges into brilliant light. They are cheering him as the Olympic gold medalist. His dream didn’t materialize in 2008 at Beijing. Not only was he not the first to the tunnel, but he had no chance at a medal and was headed for a 10th-place finish. Then something happened that changed his life. He could feel God saying to him, This isn’t everything you dreamed of, but this is everything that’s right for you at this point in your career. “So that totally cleaned up my attitude,” he says, “and I trusted that God is good, and He has a good plan for me, and this is the best thing for me at this point. I left the tunnel and went into the stadium and really enjoyed my last 400 meters running around the track. It was amazing, running into that stadium. It felt like a small piece of heaven. I’m glad God got a hold of me in that tunnel, because then I could really enjoy that last part of the race.” Hall won’t get a chance to experience his dream on Aug. 12 in the London Olympics. Not because he’s not going—he actually qualified as the second of three American runners at the Olympic trials in Houston—but because the marathon is finishing in front of Buckingham Palace. “Kind of a bummer,” he says, “but maybe I’ll give the Queen a kiss after the race.”

RUNNING ON THE PATH

It hasn’t always been like this. He hasn’t always been a world-class runner. As a boy, he didn’t even run because he says he “hated” it. Hall was consumed with baseball, football and basketball—until he had a vision at age 14. One day as he and his father, Mickey, were driving to a basketball game, Hall felt a small, still voice within his spirit, telling him to run 15 miles around Big Bear Lake near their California home. “It was a huge challenge, but I always liked big challenges,” he says. “It was like God knew that was the way to grip me. So I took the challenge and ran around the lake the next weekend with my dad, then collapsed on the couch when I got home. In that very tired state, I felt God was telling me, I’m going to give you a gift of being one of the best runners in the world. I’m going to do it so you can help and love other people. “That’s what’s been really fun. As I’ve realized both of those things—running with the best in the world and seeing how we can change the world and love others through running—I’m living out that vision God gave me.” The running part has been a steady ascent to the top for the 29-year-old Hall: a three-time NCAA Division I cross country All-American, 2005 NCAA track champion and Stanford’s 5,000-meter record holder (13:22.32); the U.S. half-marathon champion in 2005; first in the U.S. Olympic team marathon trials in 2008 (2:09:02); and three top-five finishes in the Boston Marathon, including fourth in 2011 in 2:04:58, the fastest ever recorded by a U.S. marathoner. But the mission work has been equally rewarding. 22

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In 2008, working with Team World Vision on its “More Precious than Gold” campaign, he and wife Sara helped raise nearly $1 million to bring clean-water wells and irrigation systems to needy areas of Zambia. While they were visiting a community of 90,000 people, one man told them: “Because you brought clean water here, now our life expectancy has gone up 10 years.” “That really touched my heart,” Hall says. “That just totally rocked me. Ever since then, we really wanted to use our running to help other people out.” Ryan and Sara—an accomplished runner who won the 2000 High School National Cross Country Championships; was a seven-time NCAA All-American at Stanford; and placed 26th in the 4k race at the 2006 World Cross Country Championships—founded the Hall Steps Foundation in 2009 to “fight global poverty through better health,” with a mission to “build a community and provide each member an opportunity to take their own STEPS toward relieving suffering and helping the poor rise out of poverty.” “We certainly have a huge heart for ending global poverty,” he says. “That’s what we’d like to do once we’re done running. We’re realizing how the running community can be a part of bringing change to global poverty. We’re excited to see where God takes it.”

THE RIGHT APPROACH

Although Hall grew up in a Christian household, he really didn’t have a God-centered approach to his competitive life. As Hall started to enjoy some running success, his dad decided to use their one-hour car rides—from Big Bear’s 6,800-foot altitude down to San Bernardino Valley College’s track—as teaching moments. Mickey would talk a lot about what it meant to run as a Christian. He said he believed Christians have to have a different motive and not look at winning and losing the way the secular world does. One day, Mickey said, “If you’re really, really fast, but you’re a jerk, you’re just a fast jerk. But if you’re an awesome kid who loves the Lord and you’re slow, you’re still an awesome kid who loves the Lord. What would you rather be?” Ryan shot back, “A fast kid who loves the Lord!” In subsequent conversations, Mickey explained that there would come a time when he could win even though the world would say he lost. The message got through. Mickey knows that because of what he saw at the 2003 NCAA Cross Country Championships during Ryan’s junior year. Ryan was in the lead pack, but he kept turning around and encouraging the rest of his Stanford teammates. He lost in the final 15 meters. “It was the first time he ran where I thought, ‘Wow, he’s getting this, and he’s getting it better than I ever did,’” Mickey says. “He lost the race and I thought he’d be upset. He was that close to a national championship. But he celebrated every guy who came across the line. Never did I see him look disappointed. “And I think he continues to celebrate. He knows now to celebrate the races as he’s running them. I continue to see him grow and understand that God’s point of view of winning is much different than the rest of the world’s.” Regardless of what happens in London, he will be a winner. But he wouldn’t mind if the gold medal was placed around his neck. “It’s going to take the hand of God,” he says. “But my faith is very strong. I have a real sense of destiny about this race. I think God is going to do something amazing. I’m expecting that. I’m really looking forward to race day. It’s going to be really exciting.” Rick Weber is a freelance writer who lives in Florida.

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WILL CLAYE, WHO WON BRONZE IN THE LONG JUMP AND SILVER IN THE TRIPLE JUMP TO BECOME THE FIRST MAN TO MEDAL IN BOTH JUMPS SINCE NAOTO TAJIMA OF JAPAN IN 1936, COMPETES WITHOUT WORRY AND FEAR

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ill Claye earned a silver medal in the triple jump and a bronze medal in the long jump at the 2012 London Olympics. Claye, considered to be the best long and triple jumper, combined, in the world, also earned a gold medal in the triple jump at the World Indoor Track and Field Championships in Turkey in March. He won the bronze medal in the triple jump at the 2011 World

Outdoor Championships. His grandmother, brother and aunt live in London. Before this Olympics, Claye said his grandmother had never seen him triple jump and his brother hadn’t seen him triple jump in a while. Read this exclusive interview that Sports Spectrum partner 2K Plus International Sports Media had with Claye before the Olympics. Q. How did you begin triple jumping? A. I was a long jumper when I started high school and a hurdler. My high school coach saw something, and he had me do some bounds one day, and he felt I was able to triple jump; and after that, I started triple jumping. My first year jumping, I jumped 45

(feet). My sophomore year in high school, I went 49, and my junior year 52-4, and from there I just stuck with it and it’s been going well since. Q. I saw something that described you as the world’s leading long jumper and triple jumper combined. A. Yeah, it’s a blessing. A lot of people aren’t able to do that. And I feel like I’ve been blessed to do both at an elite level. So, just going to take advantage of it and hopefully, if it’s God’s will, I will go out there and win both long and triple.

Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

Bronze medalist Will Claye of the United States celebrates after the men’s long jump final at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Olympic Stadium. 26

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Q. Is the training the same, or do you do different things? A. Yes, I do different things for each one. I have a long jump day and I have a triple jump day at practice, so completely different; a run-up, approach, completely different drills. Yes, the technique is totally different for each one, so you really have to be prepared for each one separately. Q. Assuming you stay injury-free, would you like to continue to do both throughout your career? A. As long as I can, I’m going to do both my whole career if I can. If I qualify and get the standards, then I’ll do both at all the meets I go to. Q. A lot of people had not heard of you before Daegu. A. Yes, that’s true. I guess that was my coming-out party. I’ve been a prominent jumper in the United States since 2009, but not so much on the world level. I‘ve been on four U.S. teams since juniors, but I guess Daegu, (South) Korea, was when the rest of the world found out who I was. Q. Honestly, what were your expectations before going to Daegu? A. My expectations were to medal in both jumps. I felt that there was something there that I didn’t feel before, so I knew I had something. I just wish I would have done better in the long jump as well, but Dwight (Phillips) got the medal for us so I was happy for Dwight. Q. Tell me about your faith. A. I grew up in a Christian household, but I was saved my sophomore year in high school. My brother, he brought me close to God, and just ever since then I just feel like track is what God has given me in order to be a blessing to other people, and this is the stage that He has put me on. I feel like everyone has their different ways, blessings, that they have gotten from God, and this is what He has for me at this point in my life. Q. What difference does it make having Jesus in your life? A. Oh, it makes a lot. I don’t worry about anything with God there. Saying my prayers, and having my faith, and I just go. I don’t have to worry about anything…a lot of people go out to competition, saying, “I have this little feeling in my leg”, or, “So and so this,” and, “That is going on in my life,” but me, I just go out there worryfree and do what I have to do. Q. What role does prayer play in your life? A. A big role. Prayer is a big role. Just talking to God, it’s a big role. I feel like throughout the whole day I pray, I talk to God; it’s just a habit. In my mind, I say a prayer before each jump that I take. It’s big. It’s a big part, big part in what I do. Q. What does the Bible mean to you? A. It means a lot. It’s a great book. That’s a way that you can get closer to God, as well, reading the Bible. That’s the way of defeating the enemy. The enemy is always trying to attack you, and if you keep your head in the Bible, and you read it and you understand it, then you’ll be fine. Q. Can you think of a Bible passage that helps or inspires you? A. I read Psalm 91. I read I Corinthians 15. There’s a lot of different passages. My mom, she always sends me a passage before I compete, so I’m always going through different passages, but Psalm 91 is the main one.

Harry How / Getty Images

Q. The triple jump always seems to be a very technical event, and getting your rhythm right, your run-up right; do you find that difficult? Do you have any particular tips you’ve worked on? A. In my past, I haven’t been patient in my jumps. I feel like this year I’m starting to be a little bit more patient in my jumps and not so much worried about hurrying up to get into the pit. They say the best jumps take the longest, so what I’m doing this year is just practicing on being patient and quick off the ground and it’s been working so far.

The interview was conducted by Sports Spectrum partner 2K Plus International Sports Media, a Christian media company based in London that covers sporting events throughout the world.

Q. Tell me about Psalm 91. What does that say to you? A. Just lets you know that God has given you the strength…There may be things going bad around you, but it will not come on to me and I will be fine if I keep faith in God. It just shows that He strengthens you and you don’t have to worry about it and just go ahead and do what you have to do. SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2012

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FAITH, FAMILY AND FAME

TWO-TIME LONDON 2012 GOLD MEDALIST SANYA RICHARDS-ROSS, WIFE OF TWO-TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPION AARON ROSS, SHARES PERSPECTIVE ON FAITH, FAMILY AND FAME

In London, Sanya Richards-Ross took gold in the women’s 400 meter and the 4x400m relay. She is a five-time Olympic medalist (four gold, one bronze), an eight-time World Championships medalist (six gold, two silver), and the American record holder in the 400 meters. She is married to NFL defensive back Aaron Ross, who played on the New York Giants Super Bowl-winning teams in 2007 and 2012. The couple, who began dating in 2003 when they were student-athletes at the University of Texas, were married on Feb. 26, 2010. Aaron will play for the Jacksonville Jaguars this season. Read this exclusive interview that Sports Spectrum partner 2K Plus International Sports Media had with Richards-Ross before the Olympics.

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Q.

How did you start running? A. I started running when I was 7 years old. I was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Track and field and soccer are the two biggest sports (in Jamaica), and so most children do it on the island. I remember going for a sports day; I ran very fast. I went out for a track team, and I have been doing it ever since. My parents migrated with my sister and I to Florida when I was 12 years old, and I remember my sister and I were so disappointed because we loved Jamaica, and we had so many friends and we loved school. At first it was difficult for me, but since I started doing sports I was able to make new friends and kind of have my niche and carve out my identity at the school; and I feel like it’s been the best switch my parents made for us because my sister and I both have had such great opportunities in the United States. Q. The 2004 Olympics was a great success and a great disappointment at the same time. Just talk to me through that. A. In 2004, I wouldn’t say I was very disappointed. I came into the meet with the third or fourth fastest time. I had run a full collegiate season, so I wasn’t expected to do much in the open 400. I made it to the final, I was sixth in the final. Of course, I was disappointed, I hoped to get a medal. It would have been icing on the cake for me. But to win on the relay was very exciting and for me to be able to leave Athens with a gold medal was very encouraging. And it was in that moment I realized I really wanted to go on and become professional and see what I could do if I just did track instead of being in school and running track; so I went pro after 2004. Q. There was that issue with the relay medal, that’s what I meant by disappointment. A. We still haven’t had to give our medal up, so I haven’t had to go through that disappointment. We still have our medals currently. Q. In 2006, you were just on fire. A. Two-thousand and six rivals with my 2009 season as my best season ever. It was just a perfect year. My training with coach (Clyde) Hart was going really, really well. I had an undefeated season. I broke the American record that year. It was just a fantastic year with no issues with my health or illnesses or injuries so it was just a perfect year. Q. And the U.S. record? A. Yes, I broke the American record at the worlds in Athens in 2006, so by far one of my greatest accomplishments of my career.

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Q. In 2007, you were ill and couldn’t do much. A. Yes, in 2007, I struggled with what was then diagnosed as Behçet’s disease where I had really bad mouth ulcers and lesions, and I would have bad body aches as if I had the flu all the time. So it was a tough time for me because I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on, if I was going to continue getting sicker; so 2007 was rough. I still made the (World Championship) team to Osaka (Japan) and won a (gold) medal in the (4 x 400 relay), but I was very disappointed to not run in the 400. Q. You went into 2008 perhaps as favorite and it didn’t quite work out. A. Yes, in 2008, I won every single race except for the Olympic final so that was a major heartbreak for me. You go in as a favorite and you want to win it so bad, and then you come out and you don’t perform as well as you hoped. So, it was hard for me, but I have such great support. My family was all there, my now husband, who was my fiancé then,

“People always wonder how I’m always smiling; it’s because I don’t allow the negatives to keep me down long, because I know I’m just so blessed...I know I got my gift from God, and every day when I go to practice, I’m just giving Him glory by trying to make it the best I can.” was very supportive and my coaches. I was able to get past it, but it was definitely one of the lowest points of my career. Q. How did you look back at that race now? A. I think there were a lot of factors that went into that race. I didn’t sleep at all the night before. I was so anxious to go out and compete, and everyone thinks I ran the first 200 too fast, but I actually came through at about 23.4, which is good pace for me; especially for a championship final, that’s where I’d want to be. I came on the final curve and I panicked. I felt like my hamstrings started to grab, and I’ve never had that experience before, and I just started to tighten up, and it was like the finish line started getting further and further away. So, it was hard for me.

I don’t know if I would have gone out slower, if I would have felt better coming home, or I still would have had that same thing happen so it was just hard to deal with. Q. Everything seemed to work for in Berlin (at the 2009 World Championships). A. Yeah, I felt like I grew a lot after 2008. I realized I was putting way too much pressure on myself, and so in 2009 I decided whatever happens it can’t be worse than what happened in ’08, so I was just going to go out and have fun. So it was a different season for me. I remember in Oslo (Norway), which was one of my first European races, I came over, I ran 49.2, and I thought, “Man, I’m in great shape this year. I’m ready to run fast.” And it took a lot of pressure off. So I was able to go out in Berlin and really execute and win my first world title, which was really special. Q. You’ve run under 50 seconds. Is it like 40-something times? I mean, Hollywood would give you a lifetime award for that. A. I know, right? … I think I’ve run sub-50, 47 times, the most times in history, and I’m still at it. So, it’s a great mark. I hope to continue to improve that and run faster and faster, but it just goes to show my coach (Clyde Hart), he’s just fantastic, and he knows how to keep us running fast for a long time, at a high level. I tip my hat to him because he’s the reason I’ve been able to do that. Q. Some people win World Championships or gold medals, who just have one performance on that particular day, but you’ve just been there doing it day in and day out. A. Yeah, thank you. That’s the part of my story that I hope people remember that I was one of the most consistent quarter milers in history, and I hope to add more titles to my collection. Q. In Daegu, South Korea, last year (at the World Championships), you seemed to be doing well, but in the final you didn’t quite have it? A. Two-thousand and eleven was just a really rough year for me. I got injured in 2010, and I thought I’d come back and be able to run well quickly, but man, it was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. I just never got my speed back, it felt like, and even though my endurance was there in practice, I felt like I wasn’t the same quarter miler. So, Daegu wasn’t an anomaly, I felt like the whole season was that way for me. It was hard, but I grew a lot, and it actually helped me this season to go back out and look at the small things and make some major adjustments for myself, so I felt like I needed that year to hopefully have a big year this year. Q. You have a lot of good years ahead of you. A. I just turned 27…this is my 11th international team. I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of great experiences. I remember when


Gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the women’s 400 meter final.

Mike Hewitt / Getty Images

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I was 17 or 18, on my first team, someone said, “You can’t buy experience.” So, now I feel like I’m there where I have so much experience, and I hope that will pay off in the championships because I’ve been through almost everything someone can think of. Q. Tell me about your faith, what that is, and what role that plays in your life. A. My faith plays a huge role in my life. I think it’s the reason I am able to continue

going, and I don’t allow my disappointments to keep me down for a long time because I believe God is working everything out for my good, and even though it’s not always good in the moment, doesn’t always feel good, I feel that, in the end, I’m going to be victorious. So, it plays a huge part. People always wonder how I’m always smiling; it’s because I don’t allow the negatives to keep me down long, because I know I’m just so blessed. So, it’s the major reason I do what I do. I know

I got my gift from God, and every day when I go to practice, I’m just giving Him glory by trying to make it the best I can. So, I think it’s the most important thing in my life. I think when I became a real avid Christian was when we moved to Florida (at age 12) and my aunt, who is a huge member of the church, she’s the head of the choir, and on every board at church, she made a huge impact on my life, and I saw the joy that she had from being a Christian, and I wanted to


have that experience that same joy. So, I think, as I got older and older, I became more and more involved in the church, and my faith means more to me as I become older. Q. What difference does it make to you having Jesus in your life? A. That peace that you have, when you know Jesus, as opposed to when you don’t. I just don’t feel confused or baffled by my experiences, because, like said, I feel like everything is going to work out for my greater good. I think it’s just that peace and that understanding that comes. I’m able to hold my head high even when I feel like I don’t have the best performances because I know that God still loves me regardless of those things, and all of my shortcomings He still loves me so that gives me a peace that’s hard to explain.

Sanya Richards-Ross kisses her husband and NFL cornerback Aaron Ross after winning the women’s 400 meter final on August 5, 2012.

Ian MacNicol / Getty Images

Q. What role does prayer play in your life? A. Prayer is also very important. My husband and I pray together every time we’re together; at nights before we go to bed, we try to do Bible study together. My best friend and I pray before races. We don’t just pray just because of races, but it’s something that allows us to come together. It’s a commonality that we have. So, prayer is very important to me; it’s our direct line to Jesus and we know that He hears us. Where two or more are gathered, we know that He’s there with us (referencing Matthew 18:20), so whenever I can I try to pray with my teammates to encourage them as well. Q. You’ve already mentioned Romans 8; in all, God works for good. Just talk to me about what the Bible means to you. A. The Bible is also very important to me. I think that is where we get all the information we need to equip us for life. I know last year when I was struggling, I kept reading the book of Job, and all that he went through, and how patient he was and that he never cursed God. I feel like everything we go though in life, there is a reference to it in the Bible, and if we’re patient enough and if we’re willing to read it, you find that peace and it gives you that resolve that you need to persevere so, the Bible is very important to me as well. Q. What’s it like being the kind of celebrity couple? How does that work out? A. It’s funny, people recognize us more together than they do apart. If they see us, “Oh are you Sanya Richards-Ross? Are you Aaron Ross?” So it’s exciting for me, because I’ve watched my husband grow so much and for him now to be a two-time Super Bowl champion, nobody could have told us that six or seven years ago. I remember when he too struggled and was not starting on the (University of) Texas team and worked so hard to become a starter and is now one of the most decorated Longhorns in football history. So, it’s exciting for me. And He gets to come and support me, which he loves to do, so we don’t really get caught up in that part of it, but we’re more caught up in the fact that we’re so blessed to do what we love to do. Q. Do you find it frustrating that you’ve achieved so much, but in the States you’re probably less well-known that an average NBA player? A. No, I don’t get frustrated by it. I think it’s pointless getting frustrated in things you can’t change. I know the entire U.S. is tuned in for the Olympics, so I want to prepare myself to give my best performance then, when they’re watching, so I’ve gotten used to it. I think with my husband, people know me more than they would the average runner because of the connection with my husband. I’ve gotten over that a long time ago. When I’m over here (in Europe), people are always like, “Oh my gosh, that’s Sanya Richards.” In the States, I can walk by great sports fans and they have no idea that I’m the American record holder in the 400 meters, but like I’ve said, I’ve gotten used to it. It doesn’t bother me anymore.

The interview was conducted by Sports Spectrum partner 2K Plus International Sports Media, a Christian media company based in London that covers sporting events throughout the world.

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RIGHT AT 34

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HOME

UNITED STATES SWIMMER CAITLIN LEVERENZ WAS RIGHT AT HOME IN LONDON ON HER FIRST OLYMPIC SQUAD, TAKING BRONZE IN THE 200 METER INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY BY SCOTT MOTTICE, AIA

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

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aitlin Leverenz first caught Olympic fever at age nine while watching the swimming events from Sydney with her family on TV. And when she hit the pool at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, Neb., she was going up against a few of her heroes from those same Games. The difference is that over the past 12 years, Leverenz has become friends with Amanda Beard and Natalie Coughlin as a member of the USA national swim team. That said, Leverenz was hoping not to repeat the outcome of the 2008 Trials that saw Beard and Coughlin edge her out of a spot on the Olympic team. “The 2008 Olympic Trials were the summer going into my senior year of high school. I wasn’t favored going in, but I knew I had

LEFT: Caitlin Leverenz celebrates after she won the women’s 200 meter individual medley at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials at CenturyLink Center on June 28, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska, punching her ticket to London as she earned a spot on her first Olympic squad. RIGHT: Caitlin Leverenz receives her gold medal for winning the championship final of the women’s 200 meter individual medley at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials.

Caitlin Leverenz / Getty Images

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a chance to make the Olympic team,” she says, noting that only the top two swimmers in each event make that team. “I swam really well, and I have nothing to be ashamed of, but I got two fourth places and a third. Anyone in the swimming community will say third place is the worst place to get at the Trials.” Four years later, Leverenz brings a much more impressive resume to the Olympic Trials pool: 2012 NCAA Championships Swimmer of the Meet; American record-holder in the 200 and 400 individual medley (IM); and a victory in the 200 IM in the recent Santa Clara Invitational, to name a few.

SHE’LL SEE THAT LOOK IN CAITLIN’S EYES Raised in Tucson, Ariz., Leverenz began swimming summer league at age seven and loved it from day one. The following year she begged to swim year round, but her mom thought she was too young. Another swim parent told her mom to let her swim for a few months and when it gets cold she’ll see that look in Caitlin’s eyes and she’ll be done. “My mom says after all these years she’s

never seen that look in my eyes,” laughs Leverenz. At the age of 13, she made her first Junior U.S. National Team and her mom was putting her on a plane to Australia. She has been swimming internationally ever since. After the disappointment of the 2008 Trials, Leverenz leaned on her growing Christian faith. Though raised going to church, it was her involvement in Young Life in high school that really ignited a personal relationship with God. By her senior year, she was helping others grow as well, by being part of junior leadership in Young Life, reaching out to younger high school students. Recruited by many top swimming and academic schools, Leverenz ultimately chose the University of California-Berkeley. One of the first things she did when getting to Cal was look for a Christian group to plug into, finding Athletes in Action. After meeting football player and AIA leader David Seawright, “I saw in him how his faith and athletics were both such a big part of his life and what a leader he was and immediately knew that’s where I belonged. I aspired to be like him.”


“IT’S DEFINITELY WHERE I’M MEANT TO BE” At that time there were only a few swimmers involved with AIA, but that didn’t deter Leverenz. She developed a friendship with Nick Trowbridge and Tom Shields (2012 NCAA Championships Male Swimmer of the Meet), and they started going to the weekly meetings together, which led to greater involvement on their part, as well as more swimmers getting involved. Eventually a women’s swim team Bible study was started, led by former Cal swimmer Margee Curran, now an AIA leader at the school. Leverenz is also part of Cal’s AIA student leadership team and will help promote the ministry on campus. “When I came here to Berkeley (on a recruiting trip) it just felt like home. I probably wouldn’t have said then that it was God calling me, but looking at it now I would say it was,” she says. “Since the day I got here it’s been a challenge and a journey. It’s definitely where I’m meant to be.” Leverenz’s swim success has provided similar validation. Last summer, she swam for the U.S. at the World Championships and reached the finals in both the 200 and 400 IM. At

the NCAA championships this year she led the Cal team to its third national championship in four years, winning two individual titles (400 IM and 200 breaststroke), setting American records in both, and taking second in the 200 IM. She was also honored with the season’s Honda Sports Award for Swimming, given to the top collegiate female swimmer. She credits her head coach, Teri McKeever, who also coaches the 2012 women’s Olympic team, with great support and encouragement, as well as some tough love. “I had told my coaches coming in that I still wanted to make an Olympic team, but I wasn’t performing at that level. Teri came to me and was honest, saying, ‘What you’re doing isn’t good enough and you need to know that. I’m expecting more of you and I know you want better for yourself.’ At the time that was so hard to hear, but I really appreciate that she wasn’t afraid to be honest with me. Teri is a huge reason why my swimming is more successful since then. She’s been an incredible coach, support and resource for me.” As a believer, Leverenz is able to put her swimming into perspective and enjoy her tal-

ent. But the practical application can still be a challenge. “Applying my faith to my swimming is something I’m still learning every day. Growing up, my mom always told me, ‘You’ve been blessed with this amazing gift that God has given you, just use it to the best of your abilities.’ I realize more and more now how true that is,” she says. “The best way I feel I can thank God is to use the gift He’s given me for His glory and not my own, whether that be working really hard in practice or reaching out to a teammate who is down, being kind to a competitor, having Bible study and sharing my faith with my teammates or, before my races, just saying, ‘This is in Your hands and I’m just going to go and see what happens.’”

Scott Mottice works for Athletes In Action Campus Partnerships.

Jamie Squire / Getty Images


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