Seven Christians to look out for at the Commonwealth Games
If you've been pining for top-class athletics action ever since London 2012 (and you slept through the World Championships), then the wait is over. The Commonwealth Games are kicking off in Glasgow - featuring a stellar line up of world class names, from Bolt to Farah. And just as in the recent World Cup, it turns out that many of those competing hold a strong Christian faith. Christian today presents a rundown of just a few of the athletes for whom 'running the race' has two meanings...
1. Usain Bolt - 100m, 200m - Jamaica
The undisputed superstar of modern sprinting will be looking to set yet another benchmark in the 100m final, although he has to be careful of a number of emerging pretenders to his global throne. After winning Olympic Gold in 2012 he dedicated his victory to God, telling the media 'nothing would have been possible without Him' (although this was controversially ignored by the BBC).
2. Christine Ohuruogu - 4x400m relay - England
30-year-old Olympic Gold and Silver medallist Ohuruogu is a confirmed believer, and although she's not currently in peak physical form, she's likely to compete in the relay team. Banned for a year in 2006 for missing drugs tests (rather than for taking a banned substance, as many assume), Ohuruogu is open about her faith, and has given a number of interviews on the subject. She told Christian magazine 'Woman Alive': "My Christian faith is central to my life. When things get tough, I draw strength from it".
3. Tiffany Porter - Hurdles - England
Appearing in her first Commonwealth games, World Championship bronze medallist Porter says she "strives to be the best Christian that I can be", and that God has blessed her "to use athletics as my ministry." She'll be going for Gold in the 100m hurdles, and has been tipped for a medal finish.
4. Blessing Okagbare - Long jump / 100m - Nigeria
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Blessing by name... committed Christian by nature. Nigeria's biggest track and field star is an Olympic and World Championship medallist, and speaks openly about her faith in Jesus. "I believe in God so much, and that faith keeps me going," she told 2K Plus media - to whom she also talked about her love of worship, gospel music and Bible study.
5. Nick Willis - 1500m - New Zealand
The distance runner was his country's flag-bearer in the 2012 Olympics, but he's also unashamed to wave a banner of faith - and talk explicitly about Jesus, not just 'God'. On his sadly-now-defunct personal website, Willis published a testimony of how his relationship with Jesus had shaped his life, including the following lines:
"In October of 2003, I asked Jesus to forgive me from my sins against others and against God. I thanked Him for sacrificing his life, so that I could be forgiven and have the 100% guarantee of joining Him in Heaven when I die. Now, every day is an opportunity for me to thank Him. At this point in my life, I get to do this through the awesome experience of running with all my heart for gold."
6. Lucy van Dalen - 5000m - New Zealand
Like fellow countryman Willis, van Dalen is a committed Christian who is just as open about her faith: her twitter bio reads simply: "I love to run and I love the Lord!" Further investigation of her social media account reveals a constant stream of Bible verses and faith reflections; van Dalen is about as loud and proud about her faith as it's possible for a public figure to be.
7. Tera van Beilen - Breaststroke swimming - Canada
Glasgow will provide a first Commonwealth Games appearance for the talented swimmer, whose swimming talents first came to the fore when she was on a Bible camp aged 9. Having retained her Christian faith, it's now a driving force in her life and sport: "Believing in Jesus has had a huge impact on how I live my life," she says.