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Hours after Helen Maroulis won Team USA’s historic first gold medal in women’s wrestling, the Olympic champion took a stand for Jesus Christ in the most inspiring way.
When I learned the details of Helen Maroulis’ testimony, my respect for her grew even more.
Little does every American know, as Helen walked into the Olympic arena and stepped onto the mat, she said over and over again, “Christ is in me, I’m enough.”
To win the first-ever Olympic gold medal for the U.S. in women’s wrestling, Helen Maroulis had to defeat three-time Olympic and 13-time world champion Saori Yoshida from Japan.
“Anyone can win it, that’s what I told myself,” Helen said. “I just didn’t want to look at Goliath and get scared.”
Helen had unfathomable odds stacked against her: the opponent was much bigger, older, more experienced AND the reigning champion. Despite the daunting challenge, Helen’s faith in Jesus empowered her to make history — while giving God all the glory.
Helen’s journey to Rio was far from easy: she struggled with a deep depression after unexpectedly losing her chance to represent Team USA at the London 2012 Olympics. When she entered the 2012 trials, Helen had not lost in 18 months and had been ranked No. 1 in the United States. However, God handed her the most humbling challenge of all when Team USA asked her to still come to London — not to compete — but to be used as a prop for the woman who took her place.
“I didn’t want to. I was heartbroken. But it’s a great sport. It’s going to teach you through the adversity. So I went,” Helen said.
When I learned how Helen leaned even more on God during the challenging time, I realized she was the definition of a Proverbs 31 woman.
Helen served as a training partner for the Olympian, no matter how sore she felt or what nagging injuries she suffered: the role required total submission. Despite her Olympic dreams being crushed, Helen realized God was calling her to serve others as a steward of his varied grace. Instead of being bound by bitterness, Helen continued giving God all the glory with her gift of wrestling. She relied heavily on prayer during her times of tribulation, and always prays before a match.
While training for her match against Saori Yoshida from Japan at this year’s Olympics, Helen learned to honor her opponent. Instead of fearing or loathing the reigning champion, Helen’s devout Christian faith instilled her with the ability to conquer animosity with love.
“Yoshida is an incredible athlete,” Helen said. “The more I studied her, the more I was like, she’s not my enemy. No one here is my enemy. I think God really taught me that — that these are just women who want the same thing that you do and who are sacrificing the same things that I am.”
When I learned how Helen was using her Olympic platform to spread the message of Jesus Christ, I realized God was rewarding her steadfast faith.
Helen’s social media accounts are covered with powerful Bible verses and inspiring pieces of her testimony. In the bio section of her Instagram, she has 1 Corinthians 16:13, which reads: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong.”
Helen Maroulis’ testimony reveals the perseverance and reward that can only be found in Jesus Christ. When the devil tried to detour her Olympic dreams with trials and tragedies, Helen’s peace with God’s plan allowed her to reach heights most athletes will never see.
It’s no coincidence that the first person ever to bring Team USA’s first gold medal in women’s wrestling is a follower of Jesus Christ. The new Olympic legend could easily let the fame get to her head at a time like this, but Helen knows where her true fortune can be found — in heaven.