Like many U.S. triathletes, Adoh Doherty aims to compete in the Olympics one day. Unlike many others, he puts his relationship with God at the forefront, even above that Olympic dream.
It didn’t always used to be that way. Doherty spent the first 23 years of his life not knowing Christ and only worshiping the Olympics. As a track athlete in high school, and also the son of a track athlete, his dreams of Olympic gold were the focus of his life.
But after breaking his back and heel in high school, he was forced to spend time away from running. All he could do for training was work in a pool and on a bike, all of which helped him eventually make the transition to being a triathlete. After graduating high school, Doherty spent two years running track at Providence University in Boston, before transferring to the University of Oklahoma.
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At OU, Doherty was approached by believers on the softball team — many of whom are well known for sharing about their faith in Christ. But he continuously rejected them, and rejected Christ.
“I honestly, I declined, rejected everybody, everybody that invited me, everybody that tried to share with me. And I still apologize to them to this day, but I’m so grateful because I call them my connections to Christ. And it’s like a chain link, and all of these people were just sharing. They were throwing the seeds, and sharing with me. And I’m so grateful for that,” Doherty recently told Sports Spectrum.
In the summer of 2018, Doherty found himself in Colorado training when he was approached by a missionary, who asked Doherty to pray with him. Doherty had never prayed in his life, but he prayed and apologized to God, asking Him to prove Himself right there.
“I said, ‘God, if you’re really real, prove it right now.’ And as soon as I said that, I literally couldn’t stand. My feet and my legs were shaking. Like, actually crazy tears are streaming down my face. I haven’t cried for years before that happened. Tears streaming. I can’t hardly stand it. I said, ‘Whatever this is, I’m all in, I’m all in.’ And I didn’t even know what that was because it was no church, it was no Bible, it was solely relationship. It was me having a conversation with my Creator and my Father and I was in a very vulnerable place,” Doherty said.
After that day, Doherty was all in with God, and knowing Him has changed his perspective on life and his sport. The sport of triathlon is demanding and grueling in its nature, but Doherty sees triathlon as a way to suffer for Christ.
“The suffering that I’m going through is legitimately nothing in comparison to what He did for us. I always try to suffer for Him and I’ll never be able to replicate the suffering that he did for us, but I find peace in knowing that,” Doherty said.
As a professional triathlete, Doherty competes year round and travels to races all over the world. It’s lonely at times, but Doherty never feels truly alone and knows that even if he never achieves his dream of winning Olympic gold, God will always love him and be there for him.
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“If I fall short of Olympic gold, my results don’t determine my worth,” Doherty said. “His purpose is just so much greater than an Olympic gold medal. … It’s like what I do with my platform, what I do with the people that I’m around, that’s what’s important. And that’s what He tells me.”
Doherty’s dreams of Olympic gold have never changed. But now God comes first and the Olympics come second.
“I definitely back then put the gift before the Giver, and now it’s the Giver before the gift. I understand that He gave me this gift and it needs to not be taken for granted,” Doherty said.
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