Marrianne Kriel

As an Olympic swimmer, I have been an achiever all her life. Chosen to represent Western Province schools when I was only ten years old, I fulfilled all expectations and was awarded my Springbok colours at the age of 18. At the '92 Olympic Games in Barceona, I came 10th in one event and 13th in another. No mean feat for a swimmer, who until that point, had had no real international competition having swum only against local competitors. As a key member of the team for the Atlanta Olympics, I will be under a lot of pressure to bring home the medals.

My achievements in swimming may go back a long way but so does my Christian commitment, although it was never really challenged until I spent two years at an American University on a swimming scholarship. Then I had to stand up and be counted as a Christian. I joined Campus Crusade for Christ and I knew that I wasn't just saying the right words, I really meant them. Everything in the Bible began to have more meaning for me. Having the Lord in my life helps me keep my achievements in perspective because I know that they are not the most important aspect of my life. I know the Lord is using me as part of a larger plan.

After a disappointing performance at the Commonwealth Games in Canada, I went through a painful inner struggle regarding her real motives for swimming. I realized that I was trying to fulfill my own agenda through my swimming, rather than sincerely bringing honour and glory to the Lord. I can now truly say that my desire is to honour God through my achievements. Whether I win or lose, I want to be able to show my fellow team members that I am still able to praise God for the talents and gifts he has given me and be a witness to his love in this way. I see the Lord working in my life in many ways and have always tried to honour Him by talking about my Christian commitment at schools, churches and gatherings of all kinds. I will use every opportunity to convey my beliefs to fellow team members and hope that my calmness before a race is a witness to others of how the Lord has helped me cope with pre-race jitters and the pressures of competition. I used to get almost panicky before a race, but now I pray and I feel a real calmness. I know there's a larger plan and I just have to play my part.

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