Olympic medalist shares passion for following Christ
Allyson Felix, at age 18, is a world-class sprinter and a silver medalist in the 200 meters at the Olympics in Greece. Felix, the daughter of a pastor, spoke recently with sportswriter Gail Wood — a frequent contributor to Today’s Pentecostal Evangel — about her greatest passion in life: following after Jesus Christ.
PE: You once stood in line to get the autograph of Marion Jones and now you race against her. What’s that like?
FELIX: It’s definitely a different feeling. I have to put things in a different perspective. I have to have the mind-set that this is my competition.
PE: Was it difficult getting over that awe factor?
FELIX: When you step on the track, it’s all business. I still admire her. I still have the respect for her. But on the track it’s different.
PE: You’re asked for your autograph now. Do you write anything with it?
FELIX: I usually put “God bless you.”
PE: How old are you going to be when you retire from track?
FELIX: I have no idea. I want to be in the sport for a while. Go to as many Olympics as I can. Two or three more.
PE: What are you going to do after track?
FELIX: I’d like to teach elementary school. That’s what my mom does.
PE: I’ve heard that your dad says your room is messy.
FELIX: There is something always going on. The little things are hard to keep up with.
PE: What are the big things?
FELIX: Track, of course. School. But my most important thing is my walk with God.
PE: What is it like growing up being a pastor’s kid?
FELIX: I think you get watched a little more. But I never felt it was a burden or anything. It was fine for me.
PE: When did you accept Jesus into your heart?
FELIX: I was 6. I was at my dad’s service. Then when we came home from church, he explained things to me and I decided that’s what I wanted to do. It’s made all the difference.
PE: Do you pray before racing?
FELIX: Yeah. Always.
PE: What do you pray about?
FELIX: It’s about faith. Also, if there is any way that I can use this race to glorify God.
PE: I hear people criticize Christian athletes — that they aren’t supposed to be tough competitors and that they make good losers. What are your thoughts about Christian athletes being competitive?
FELIX: I feel I’m as competitive and determined as anybody else. My focus may be a little different. But I’m not going to let them beat me.
PE: How do you keep a balance between ego and knowing who you are before God?
FELIX: My family helps me. I know this is a gift from God. I can’t do it on my own. Knowing that and repeating that makes it easier. I know it’s a gift and I don’t take it for granted.
PE: The Bible talks about doing your best for God. Does that help drive you?
FELIX: When you do track, or any other sport, you’re on a stage and people look at how you present yourself and the way you compete. God can use all that to change someone’s life. That’s always a big part of it.
PE: So, you accept being a role model?
FELIX: Yes. That’s one of the best parts. I can be a witness.
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