Faith a life-long journey for Olympian

Faith a life-long journey for Olympian

Michelle Carter has earned multiple trips to the Olympic Games as a member of Team USA. She will continue to represent the United States in the women’s shot put event.

After finishing fifteenth in the Beijing Olympics and sixth in London four years later, Michelle has set high expectations for herself.

“My goal is gold. I know that I am more than capable of reaching that goal, and since this is my second trip to the Olympics, there are more expectations,” said the Texas native and University of Texas graduate as she headed to London. “I am working more than I ever have and trying to be more consistent with my throws.”

Olympic excellence runs in Michelle’s family. Her father Michael, who was also a three-time Super Bowl champion and three time All-Pro defensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers, won the silver medal in the shot put at the Los Angeles Olympic Games.

Michael serves as his daughter’s coach. She says the familial tie does raise the pressure she feels from external sources as she prepares for her Olympic experience.

“People have higher expectations for me because of my dad’s success and the opportunity I have to have him as my coach,” she says.

Michelle says that as good a throws coach as her father is, he and her mother, Sandra, taught her and her younger sister D’Andra, who was a discus thrower and shot putter at Texas Tech University, about something much more important: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

“I grew up in church. I don’t know anything different,” Michelle said. “I received Christ as my Savior and was baptized when I was around six or seven years old. My faith has always been part of my life.”

She acknowledges that her faith in Christ helps her deal with the pressure that accompanies being an elite athlete.

“It is easier to deal with things that aren’t going my way on the track,” Michelle says. “I know the kind of God I serve and know what He can do through me when I allow him to. I have been taught to believe and to have faith in Him and His plan for me.

“God gives us exactly what we need when we need it to be our best, even when we think we don’t have enough.”

That philosophy extends beyond on-track competition for Michelle.

“God puts us in position to do the things we need to, both on and off the track, to honor Him,” she says. “We have to be ready to share our faith in Christ.”

During an international competition in Istanbul, Turkey, Michelle and some of her teammates wanted to have Bible Study before the competition.

“There was no one else around,” she says. “So I opened a devotional book I was reading through personally and shared it with my teammates. We talked about giving everything we had to God and trusting Him.”

It was the first time Michelle had led a Bible study.

“I had a couple of teammates come up to me and tell me how God used that to speak to them.”

Michelle also realizes that her influence extends beyond the realm of athletics.

“People notice how I am living out my faith. Sometimes it takes me by surprise how much they notice,” she says. “Even when no one is looking, the way I act is important because it is a reflection of how I walk with Christ.”

By Tommy Young, AIA Communications Photos by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport

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