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What does it take to represent your country in athletics on the world stage? Most will claim that it takes dedication, and a lot of time, but those aren’t the only ingredients to becoming a world class athlete.
Millions of kids grow up dreaming of having a medal placed around them as their National Anthem plays, but very few ever get to experience that. For American divers Steele Johnson, and David Boudia, that dream has become a reality.
The pair came to Rio. They saw. And they conquered. Johnson and Boudia performed beautifully in the Men’s synchronized 10m platform event where they won a silver medal. But it’s what they did out of the water that really showed their true victory.
“I just think in the past there’s just been an enormous amount of pressure and I’ve felt it. It’s just an identity crisis. When my mind is on this [points to the stadium] and thinking I’m defined by this, then my mind goes crazy. But we both know that our identity is in Christ and we’re thankful for this opportunity to be able to dive in front of Brazil and in front of the United States. And it’s been an absolutely thrilling moment for us.” -David Boudia
Their stand for Christ also inspired tweets from 2003 Miss America Erika Harold and NFL Baltimore Ravens star Benjamin Watson:
So inspired by divers @davidboudia + @Steele_Johnson sharing that their identity isn't found in #Olympic medals but in Christ. #TeamUSA— Erika Harold (@_ErikaHarold) August 9, 2016
@davidboudia @TeamUSA @NBCOlympics @Steele_Johnson congratulations to you both! Thank you for reminding us of our identity in Christ. PTL— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) August 9, 2016
Even a tweet from Purdue University Boilermakers quarterback David Blough:
Huge congratulations to two great dudes, @Steele_Johnson and @davidboudia. Inspired by y'all's faith and boldness in Christ name! #BoilerUp— David Blough (@David_Blough10) August 9, 2016
And this wasn’t the first time that Boudia and Johnson have both given glory to God for their successes.
“I’ve been working for this dream for a long time. I honestly never thought the day would come, and I just blinked, and now I’m on the 2016 Olympic team… It’s cool because this is exciting, this is fun, but it’s not what my identity is going to be the rest of my life.” -Steele Johnson
Mind you, this was minutes after being named to Team U.S.A., and yet Johnson knows that he is destined for things far greater than athletic achievement. What he said next absolutely blew me away:
“Yeah, I’m Steele Johnson the Olympian, but at the same time I’m here to love and serve Christ. My identity is rooted in Christ.”
It was then that the interviewer turned quickly to Johnson’s diving partner and two-time Olympian, gold medalist David Boudia who won the Gold in the 2012 games in London for his 10m platform. It looks like she was expecting to hear something different from Boudia, but instead he publicly professed his faith just as strongly as Johnson.
Johnson may be coming to his games for the first time, but Boudia has been twice before and knows the ropes. But that isn’t keeping him from making his relationship with Jesus the center of the platform of his Olympic journey. Boudia became a Christian in 2010 through the influence of his college diving coach Adam Soldati and openly referenced his faith before, during, and after the 2012 Olympics. In 2012, Boudia married Sonnie Brand, whom he met while studying at Purdue University and two years later they welcomed their first child, Dakoda.
After winning and qualifying for the U.S.A. Olympic team, Boudia had a few choice words to say:
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” -Matthew 5:16