Fall 2021 SS Magazine

U.S. teenager Athing Mu wins 800m Olympic gold, says her goal is to live in image of Jesus

Less than two months after turning 19 years old, U.S. runner Athing Mu is an Olympic champion. She captured gold in the women’s 800-meter race at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday, in an American record time of 1:55.21.

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Fellow 19-year-old Keely Hodgkinson of Great Britain took silver (1:55.88) and fellow American Raevyn Rogers surged late for the bronze (1:56.81). Mu is the first U.S. woman to win this event at the Olympics since 1968 (when Madeline Manning accomplished the feat).

It marks the second gold medal for the U.S. track and field team in Tokyo, after Valerie Allman won the women’s discus. After her breakthrough performance, Mu gave glory to God on Twitter.

The second-youngest of seven siblings, Mu was born in 2002 after her family left Sudan and immigrated to the U.S. The family now primarily resides in Trenton, N.J., but Athing just finished her freshman year at Texas A&M. After a stellar season, she announced that she would turn professional and forgo her final three years of collegiate eligibility.

Mu’s coach at Texas A&M, Pat Henry, says Mu is the best female athlete he’s ever seen on the track.

“She is a fantastic athlete. I’ve been doing this [for] 48 years. She’s the best female athlete I’ve ever had,” Henry told A&M’s student newspaper, The Battalion, in June.

Mu broke the 800m collegiate record earlier this year, which at the time made her the 10th-fastest woman in the event’s history. She’s also competed nationally in the 400m and 1,500m.

Through it all, Mu aims to glorify God.

“As a follower of Christ, our main goal is to live in the image of Jesus in order to connect to God and ‘get to God,” Mu told The Battalion in June. “I believe when God is ready to give you blessings, He gives it to you with all intentions. In this case, ‘keeping one at the top, never at the bottom.'”

In mentioning the “top” and “bottom,” Mu was referring to Deuteronomy 28:13, which reads, “The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.”

Mu says her running is an expression of her faith. She realizes God has blessed her with a gift, so she aims to glorify Him with it.

“The only thing I can do is thank God because without Him, I wouldn’t be able to do anything I’ve done this season,” she told WomensRunning.com last week. “I think He’s really awakened me with one thing, especially, that’s confidence. That’s one thing I’ve really gained this year as a collegiate athlete, having confidence in all I do because I do have the capability, I was made for this.

“It’s really been a special year. I didn’t expect this all to happen. I came to college with no expectations. I was hoping to improve, maybe, and if not, it’d be fine because I have a couple years of college left, so it’s pretty special.”

Her year got a lot more special Tuesday night.

 

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