Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

5 Christ-following Olympians to follow leading up to the 2021 Tokyo Games

Today was supposed to mark the start of the 2020 Summer Olympics. The Opening Ceremony was supposed to take place tonight at Tokyo’s Japan National Stadium, welcoming some 11,000 athletes from 206 countries.

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Instead, Tokyo will have to wait to become the first Asian city to host the Summer Games twice (after first hosting in 1964). The COVID-19 pandemic made the Tokyo Games the first Olympics to ever be postponed rather than canceled. As of now, the 2021 Olympics are set to begin July 23, 2021.

As we’ve become well aware, plans are subject to change. But provided the Games do take place, here are five Christ-following athletes to follow over the next year.

Christian Taylor — triple jump
He is the two-time reigning Olympic champion in the triple jump, winning gold at the 2012 London Games and defending his title at the 2016 Rio Games. Taylor is also the current triple jump world champion, as he won gold yet again at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar. He has his eyes set on breaking the triple-jump world record of 18.29 meters (60 feet, 0 inches), which was set in 1995. Taylor’s personal best of 18.21 meters (59 ft., 8 3/4 in.), set in August 2015, ranks No. 2 all time.

“I had a peace in a moment where I thought I could lose it all,” Taylor said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast, recalling the 2012 Olympics where he nearly missed the final, but went on to win gold. “And that was the moment for me [when I said], ‘I’m ready to take my faith to another level. I was baptized right after that, and for me, felt reborn. … Now I live off the idea of ‘Blessed to be a blessing.'”

Allyson Felix — 400m
She’s already won six Olympic gold medals and three silvers, but Felix faces a tough task to make the 2021 Olympic team. At 35, she’ll be looking to become the oldest U.S. Olympic 400m sprinter in history, and make her first Games as a mother. She gave birth to a daughter through emergency C-section at 32 weeks in November 2018.

“For me, my faith is the reason I run. I definitely feel I have this amazing gift that God has blessed me with, and it’s all about using it to the best of my ability,” Felix told USA Today in 2012.

Kyle Snyder — wrestling
He is the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the 97kg (213 lbs.) freestyle wrestling class, winning the 2016 Rio Games as a 20-year-old to become the youngest Olympic wrestling gold medalist in U.S. history. Snyder is also a two-time world champion and three-time NCAA champ. At the 2017 Worlds, he defeated Russia’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev, who won 2016 Olympic gold at 86kg before moving up in weight. The wrestling world yearns for an Olympic showdown between Snyder and Sadulaev, who won the 97kg world title in 2018 and ’19.

“[God’s] given me His Spirit who lives inside me so I can live this way. Any accolades I acquire in this life are meaningless, but the growth I experience spiritually is what means the most,” Snyder said in the Fall 2019 edition of Sports Spectrum Magazine

Cat Osterman — softball
She helped lead the U.S. to Olympic gold (2004) and silver (2008) medals, before softball was left off the program in 2012 and 2016. But softball is back for the 2021 Games, and so is Osterman, 37. She retired from professional softball in 2015, but decided to play again in 2018 with an eye toward the Olympics. Osterman and fellow pitcher Monica Abbott are the only two past U.S. Olympians named to the 15-player softball roster for Tokyo.

“When I wake up there’s something way more important than anything on my to-do list, anything that’s going to happen on the softball field, anything period. I’m here for a purpose. It’s His purpose and I’m going to fulfill it,” Osterman said in the Summer 2020 edition of Sports Spectrum Magazine

Micah Christenson — volleyball
As the starting setter for the U.S. men’s national team, he’s often referred to as the team’s “quarterback” because the offense flows through him. Christenson was named Best Setter at the 2018 FIVB World Championship, was No. 1 at the 2016 Olympics with 340 running sets (a set that puts a hitter against zero or one blocker), and Best Setter at the 2015 FIVB World Cup. Ranked No. 3 in the world, the U.S. men seek their first gold since 2008; they took bronze at the 2016 Games.

“It’s easy to be with God when you’re doing things well, but to go through the mud with God a little bit was a great experience for me to have. … It’s like, ‘OK God, this is still hard, I haven’t conquered this mountain yet, but I trust You,'” Christenson said in the Summer 2020 edition of Sports Spectrum Magazine

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