Her elementary school classmates used to mock her for her skinny “chicken legs” when she ran. But that all changed when she joined the track team in ninth grade.
Allyson Felix is still listed at only 5-foot-6 and 125 pounds, but she isn’t teased by those who watch her run anymore. Not since she became the fastest woman in the world. After breaking Marion Jones’ national high school record in the 200 meters, Felix stunned the world by earning a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics at the age of 18. This past year she became the world champion in three events—only the second woman ever to win three gold medals at the World Championships.
Since the last time STV featured Felix, she’s gotten older, wiser and faster. And as difficult as it may sound, contributing writer Gordon Thiessen managed to catch up with the speedster earlier this year to get the lowdown on her faith, her sport and what’s changed from Athens to Beijing.
Gordon Thiessen: How is your training routine different than it was for the last Olympics?
Allyson Felix: The biggest difference is that I’m not in school, so I can give my full attention to training. I’m spending
a lot more time on the track with two-a-day workouts. I’m also focusing more on the sprints or 100-meter race than I did several years ago.
“I think you need to have both words and works. Otherwise, some athletes might think it’s all about your having great character and self-control when it is really the power of the Holy Spirit that is producing the positive character traits in your life.”
GT: Are there any particular keys to seeing your times drop?
AF: There really isn’t any one drill or activity that is more beneficial to lowering my times on the track. You really need to do a combination of many drills, so it’s simply a matter of making sure you do the complete workouts. It might surprise some people, but the endurance drills are a very important part of my workouts. A lot of runners might overlook this part of a sprinter’s routine.
GT: What races are you hoping to run in this summer’s Olympics?
AF: I’m planning to run the 100 and 200 at the June Olympic Trials. The 200 is my stronger event, but I’m hoping to make the Olympics in both. And possibly I could be selected for a couple of the relay teams as well.
GT: You grew up in a Christian home and came to Christ at a young age. Tell us about your faith, specifically God’s Word. What is your favorite Bible verse as it relates to your sport?
|Born: Nov. 18, 1985|
Residence: Los Angeles, Calif.
Education: University of Southern California
-BA in Elementary Education
100m - 11.01 (2007)
200m - 21.81 (2007)
400m - 49.70 (2007)
•2-time World Champion in the 200m
•Current World Champion in three events: 200m, 4x400m relay, 4x100m relay
•Won the 200m by the largest margin ever at the 2007 World Championships (0:0.53)
•2004 Olympic silver medalist in the 200m
AF: Definitely Philippians 4:6 (NASB). It says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
The sport of track and field is a nerve-racking sport. Everyone seems to be tense all the time. I like to meditate on this verse before a race. My focus in every race is to bring God the glory, and this verse reminds me of my responsibilities and encourages me as well. It teaches that I can bring everything to the Lord; I don’t need to be anxious about winning a race or getting injured. It also teaches that my priority should be to bring Him the glory regardless of winning or losing a race.
Another verse I like is Proverbs 4:23 (NASB), which states, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” That’s the Bible verse I put on the welcome page of my Web site (allysonfelix.com).
GT: Where do you receive your spiritual encouragement?
AF: I stay active in my church, and my mother has continued to disciple me. We meet each week when I’m in town for a Bible study. When I’m traveling for track meets, my parents always call and pray with me before my races.
GT: What advice would you give athletes who want to serve the Lord with their gifts and abilities?
AF: I would encourage them to keep their priorities straight. They should pursue the things they love, but only in a way that brings glory to the Lord. Also, I think they should take advantage of the counsel and support from their parents. If, however, they don’t have the type of godly parents that some athletes have, they need to seek some support from a pastor or youth group.
GT: How does competing for Christ impact your practices and competitions?
AF: It makes a huge difference. When you recognize that your athletic career is in God’s hands, it can keep you from getting caught up in the “winning is everything” philosophy that so many coaches and athletes follow.
Naturally, we all want to win or be successful, but unless we’re doing our sport God’s way, we’re not honoring and giving Him the glory. Whether you win or lose, you need to realize that your priority or goal is to bring the glory to God. Once I understood God’s perspective on sports, it helped me to enjoy my sport and gave me a greater purpose for running.
|When asked how she would explain salvation, Felix illustrated a clear plan based out of Scripture:
“If I have an opportunity to spend plenty of time with someone, I like to let them know that we are all sinners and that God is perfect and holy,” she said, citing Romans 3:23 and Matthew 5:48. “Because we all have broken His law, we deserve eternal death (Romans 6:23). Therefore, since God requires perfect obedience to His law (James 2:10), all of us needed the Lord to send Jesus Christ to earth to die on the cross to pay sin’s penalty (Romans 5:8).
“I want them to know that Jesus rose from the grave and is alive today,” she continued. “We must repent of our sins and believe in Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9) so we won’t be under God’s wrath (Acts 17:30).”
Not lost on Felix is the importance of adding a personal touch.
“Whenever possible, I try to share my testimony with them as well. I don’t always have much time with athletes I compete against, so I want to make sure my attitude and behavior serve as a witness to my faith in Christ. I think you need to have both words and works. Otherwise, some athletes might think it’s all about your having great character and self-control when it is really the power of the Holy Spirit that is producing the positive character traits in your life.”
*For more stories about faith and sport, visit www.sharingthevictory.com, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Photos courtesy of Adidas.