Like many U.S. gymnasts, trampolinist Elijah Vogel aims to compete in the Olympics one day. Unlike many others, though, Vogel puts his faith at the center of his life, especially when it comes to trampoline.
Growing up in a Christian home in Longmont, Colorado, the 19-year-old Vogel has known the Lord as long as he can remember. He says his faith in Christ has been his foundation through the ups and downs of competing on the senior USA Gymnastics trampoline and tumbling team.
“I just always remind myself He’s the center of it all, because He’s the one that gave me the gift,” Vogel recently told Sports Spectrum. “It would be very foolish to go ahead and take it all for myself.”
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Up until 2021, Vogel hadn’t had the opportunity to compete internationally, as he kept missing out by small margins. He had a tough span of falling in competitions, but it was his faith that kept him in the sport.
“A few years back when I was junior elite, I had a rough two years in a row, like falling every competition. It was tough, but my faith was my rock through that whole thing,” Vogel said. “And as long as I felt the Lord still pointing me to continue in, it got me over that hump.”
By continuing to push through difficult times, Vogel eventually broke through to earn third at the 2021 USA Gymnastics Championships. That earned him a spot on the 2021 World Championships team, which competed in Baku, Azerbaijan. To cap off the year, Vogel won silver in trampoline and claimed gold in synchronized trampoline at the Junior Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia.
In 2022, he placed second at the 2022 USA Championships, and also represented the U.S. in two World Cup events in synchronized trampoline, placing seventh in Switzerland and eighth in Italy.
He’s now focused on continuing to earn berths for the World Cup circuit and the world championships, which would help toward his goal of making an Olympic team for Paris 2024 and/or L.A. 2028. Only one male and one female trampolinist from the U.S. can qualify for the Olympics.
To do so, Vogel will have to compete nearly perfect to earn that spot. Despite how intense that may be, Vogel keeps the Lord at the center of it all and keeps his focus on Him.
“Giving Him all the credit, it is a regular process for me,” Vogel said. “I think every athlete goes through that where you have to periodically just realize that thing: ‘I’m starting to take this for myself a little bit, I need to give this back to the Lord.’ And so that’s just something I have to do all the time. It’s a journey, but it’s been amazing to have the Lord and His presence alongside me all the way.”
Vogel strives every day to be closer to the Lord and get in His Word to grow deeper in his faith. Nothing brings Vogel closer to the Lord and brings him peace than spending time praying and reading the Bible before bed.
Along with his faith, Vogel has had the support of his family, coaches and trainers. Vogel’s dad, Aaron, owns a sports performance company, In The Core, which has helped Vogel train on the technical side, but has also helped him in his faith.
“In the sport of trampoline, I know maybe one or two others that know the Lord; outside of that I’m the only one. So it’s just really untapped. [Trampoline is] something that I think we need a lot more Christians to just be strong in and go for. So my dad’s business, it has been awesome to have that,” Vogel said.
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But regardless of if Vogel is all alone or on U.S. teams full of other Christ-followers, he’ll keep striving for his Olympic goal while keeping the Lord at the center.
“My faith is the bedrock of what I do and everything I am,” Vogel said.
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