Melissa Gonzalez’s Olympics came to an end Monday as she failed to advance to the finals in the 400-meter hurdles. She finished sixth in her eight-person heat with a time of 57.47.
However, her experience competing in Tokyo was not without some unforgettable memories.
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Gonzalez’s time of 55.32 in the preliminary round was a Colombian record, and she had a special cheering section rooting her on as she qualified for the semifinals.
Her husband, Detroit Lions quarterback David Blough, and teammates gathered after practice Friday night to watch Gonzalez run. The team also sent a video wishing her good luck:
We're pulling for you, Melissa❗️ pic.twitter.com/sGuB3sqlR7
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) July 30, 2021
Blough shared the video of him and his teammates watching the race and thanked the Lions for capturing the moment:
Proud is an understatement.
Thank you @Lions for capturing a moment we will remember for the rest of our lives. pic.twitter.com/c8HE69bcR9
— David Blough (@david_blough10) August 1, 2021
To top things off for the couple, Blough celebrated his 26th birthday on Saturday.
“It was about the best birthday present you could ever ask for in her just being there,” he told ESPN. “So, we’re so thankful.”
Gonzalez praised God and wished her husband a happy birthday in an Instagram post:
View this post on Instagram
Born and raised in the United States, Gonzalez is eligible to run for Colombia through her dad, who was born there.
She and Blough both attended Creekview High School in Carrollton, Texas, before going separate ways for college. Gonzalez attended the University of Texas and Blough went to Purdue University.
In an appearance on the Sports Spectrum Podcast last week, Gonzalez said she received guidance from spiritual mentors during her time at Texas and really started making God the center of her life.
“I wouldn’t have been able to continue my track career past high school without my relationship with God,” she said on the podcast. “When I went to college, I was, like, really excited and really on a path of where I thought I was going to end up eventually to be running as a professional athlete and didn’t have a great college career. When I started not seeing progress, in college, I realized that I was finding my identity in sports and being the one who’s good at being an athlete.”
As Gonzalez has continued to grow in her faith, she’s learned to embrace the trials that come with being a Christian because she knows the ultimate reward is far greater.
“I’m not willing to compromise my beliefs,” Gonzalez told SportGoMag.com, a website sharing Christ-centered stories of sportspersons around the world. “Yes, it may be easier, and much more comfortable, to go along with whatever my teammates are doing, but it’s not what we’re called to do as Christ-followers. We’re not promised a comfortable life. In fact, if we choose to follow Christ, we are promised to face opposition and persecution. That may be in the form of teammates laughing at you for standing out, or it may be as serious as putting your life in danger for making a stance for Christ. But whatever the cost, eternal life with Christ is worth it.”
Gonzalez’s performance in the Tokyo Olympics, as well as the enthusiastic support from Blough and the Lions, have allowed her testimony to be shared with thousands of people around the globe. When the eyes of the world aren’t watching her, Gonzalez still shares the love of Christ through being a good listener and making those she interacts with feel valued.
“If you ask questions and really listen, people will share,” she said in the SportGoMag.com story. “It may be as simple as asking someone to get coffee to share the love of Christ with them. This small, repetitive act may be how they grow to love and cherish Jesus Christ. It was for me.”
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