I was not a natural speedskater.
I started speedskating in the 4th grade. I was being home-schooled, and my parents wanted me in a winter sport for a physical education component. I started out on hockey skates, swinging my arms trying to look like a speedskater, which is ridiculous. I was not immediately good at it.
In fact, had it not been for the encouragement of my parents, and my association with a great group of coaches, I would have given up.
But I kept at it. I joined a speedskating club. I got better. I made the Junior National Team, did some training camps with them; made the National Team in 1998 and missed the 1998 Olympics by 2_ seconds; set the American record for the 10,000 Meter race on route qualifying for the 2002 Olympics at Salt Lake City.
Cost and Reward
It was a long journey from my first experience speedskating to the Olympics. Along the way, there were decisions to be made. Every year, I would have to decide if I wanted to dedicate myself to improving, or whether it was time to give it all up. Other people my age were doing other things going to school, getting married, getting jobs, becoming established.
There was definitely a price to be paid for dedicating my life to speedskating. There were things I had to give up, or at least forego for a time.
But I dont look at the price Ive paid I look at the rewards Ive received and there are several.
Ive traveled the world, made wonderful friends, and found great churches.
Ive been able to harness my body. Im fit and Im strong.
And, Ive been given great opportunities to witness to my faith in God. Speedskating has provided a platform for me to talk about the thing that is most important in my life - my relationship with God.
My parents were missionaries, so I was brought up in a Christian household. My own personal decision to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior took five years or so.
Whats kept me so focused on God is not religion not acting the part or doing what you think youre supposed to do. Its the relationship. Its the knowledge that Im loved, and that Im loved unconditionally. Any relationship where I can get loved like that is what I want.
I love to wrap up a hard day of training with prayer and the Scriptures. I read a chapter in the Bible every night before going to bed. Over the course of years, Ive read through the entire Bible twice and Im working on my third round.
God has always been there for me. There have been times I have lost sight of whats really important and Ive wandered away from God, but Hes never left me. And that gives me a great sense of peace.
Everything I do, I do for God. Hes given me such wonderful opportunities, and I want to maximize what Hes given. I want to enjoy every experience. I want to fill each day with good things. Im thankful for every blessing.
I want to give 100% in everything I do. I even skate for God.
I have a favorite little saying TGBTG. It means "To God be the Glory". And whenever I win a competition, and Im on the podium, I like to take a knee to kneel and pray before receiving the medal or award to keep things in perspective and remind myself of whats ultimately important TGBTG "To God be the Glory."
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