1. Trayvon Brommell (USA, 100m)
He may have become the first junior sprinter to surpass the 10 second barrier in the 100m, but Trayvon Brommell’s greatest challenge will come in Rio as he attempts to outrun Usain Bolt. Brommell is just 21 and only became a Christian recently:
‘When I was younger I didn’t go to church. I was lost and I didn’t know what I was doing or my purpose. One night I heard a voice that said ‘Trayvon, its time’. I didn’t know what it meant. I was trying to find myself but then it came upon me that you can’t find yourself unless you find God! The people who we are is all because of him and once you realise that, everything comes into sight. I found him at age 16 or 17 and since then everything has been great.
‘At the end of the day he has ultimate control. God has given us everything on this earth so if I’m going to talk to someone who is going to help me change my life, that’s who I’m going to go to. I stay in my lane, follow his word and do what I’m supposed to do.’
2. Shelly-Ann-Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica, 100m)
Shelly-Ann-Fraser-Pryce first become a Christian at the age of 12 but later wandered away from faith. At the age of 21 she became the first Caribbean woman to win 100m Gold at the Olympics (2008). It was this experience of winning big that ultimately led her to question what her life was all about:
‘I went to the Olympics and I won. Everything that I asked God for and prayed about I got. I had the money and everything I really wanted. But I wasn’t content or happy. In 2009 I won again and was comfortable but not happy. I knew something was missing. I decided it was time for me to go back to church and start living for Christ.
‘It has been difficult because I believe when you decide to go back into church everything that is bad will happen! And everything happened to try and distract me from going back. But I was very determined and since deciding to go back I think that is the happiest decision I’ve made in my life. A lot of people talk about Christ and God and the church but I believe for a person to become a Christian you have to know and see God for yourself. No one can force you. The fact I wasn’t forced and saw it for myself made me an even stronger believer in him.’
3. Kirani James (Grenada, 400m)
Reigning Olympic champion Kirani James will be hoping to repeat his past successes in Rio. But whatever happens, he says God comes first:
‘I’m doing it for God because he’s the one that needs to get all the glory. Regardless of the race, his love for me doesn’t change and that’s a huge part of helping me stay calm and compete without worrying about other things. Sometimes you falter or you go through phases where you’re not as focused as you should be. But having people around me really helps. Back in Alabama I always do a weekly Bible study with one of my colleagues and that helps me stay on track and consistent in my faith.’
4. Christian Taylor (USA, Triple Jump)
Reigning Olympic Champion and current World Champion in the Triple Jump, Christian Taylor is confident as he heads to Rio. When asked how important his Christian faith is to his life, the athlete responded:
‘This is what I do it for, it’s what keeps me grounded and motivated. My grandma got a cellphone for Christmas and she texts me verses and always says “give God the glory”. And that’s what I do it for. As a human you get excited and say ‘look what I did!’. But my grandma always says “don’t forget [God]” and it keeps me grounded.
5. Asbel Kiprop (Kenya, 1500m)
After the original winner of the 1500m Rashid Ramzi tested positive for doping, Asbel Kiprop was awarded gold. The middle distance runner is all too aware of the doping scandal that has affected many of his fellow athletes, but says its his Christian faith that stops him from following the wrong path:
‘When you are a Christian there are so many things in life that you avoid and this boosts your performance. If you’re a Christian you don’t need to lie to perform. Using drugs is also a sin because you’re lying to yourself, your fans and people watching on TV and you are cheating and robbing your opponent. So it’s many types of sin when an athlete is a doper.
‘The priority is being close to God. God is there and he lives. What is written in the Bible is true and God is a reality.’
The interviews with the above athletes were given to Premier by our media partner Passion For Sport