Four (+ one) years of specific preparation. Add in a lifetime of learning and multiple qualifying events. An eleven hour flight and 5400 miles to Tokyo. Eight hours of Covid processing in the airport. Several more hours to reach the team hotel. Fixed eyes and focused training right down to the hour and moment. All of this for one shot—one full gas, laser-focused, 30-minute bid for one of three medals. I was eleven seconds short of bronze. Sixteen seconds short of silver. Ugh. I finished in fifth place—so close, and yet so far.
But oh, what a ride!
Yeah, I dreamed. I wanted more. But I have no regrets. I left it all out on the course, and raced with my whole heart and all God’s strength. For me, that thirty minute race was a step-of-faith moment. Really, the entire week and all the years of training have been a giant step of faith.
I had no guarantee of getting back to the Olympics or what the result would be if I did. I simply trusted the One who does. I know the Lord is always faithful. His ways are always perfect. He is always working. So my approach throughout training is to trust Him in the process and trust Him with the outcome, all the while praising Him. Period.
From that place, I am both disappointed in missing the goal of a medal and extremely happy with my effort. How? Eternal perspective. My identity is in Christ. Cycling is what I do—and not who I am. I have been stretched, emptied, filled and molded. Again and again. One at a time and all at the same time.
Recently, I was asked what I’ve learned over the years of cycling that I would want to pour into the next generation of younger women coming up. I would say, remember that God’s goal for you is accomplished in the process, not the achievement. We get so fixated on the end result that we often miss the “gold” happening in the process. It’s in the daily pursuit where we are challenged to trust, wait, and rely on the Lord. That’s where we develop our faith, our spiritual senses. That’s where the true championship intangibles—perseverance, patience, perspective, and learning to use God’s power—are formed. The process is where we are able to work out all of the truths and promises that God has worked into us.
God’s Word is alive and active. It is spirit and truth. But to know this personally, you must put it into practice in your own race.
The pursuit of God.
The true beauty of what has happened for me through the process of competing in three Olympic Games is the shift from the pursuit of gold through God, to the pursuit of God Himself. The process has provided the specific context for me to meet with Him and the conduit for Him to work in me.
Over time, I’ve come to realize that the achievement, the material possession, or any blessing, hasn’t been the ultimate goal. It has been this desire to know Jesus and experience His presence and power in every moment of life. That is so much more valuable than any gold medal!
So my encouragement to you is this. Learn to love the process of chasing whatever the Lord has set in front of you. This shift in my understanding wasn’t the simple flip of a switch—it happened over many years. I don’t know how long your process will take, or how many obstacles you will face along your race course, but I do know that He is faithful. Your job is to commit to faithfully being in His Word daily, to continually look and listen for Him as you chase your own gold. God is waiting for you to invite Him into every detail of your life. Spend time with Him and put into practice what He says. If you do that, you will begin to see Him and know Him better, because He wants to be found and known.
What a crazy cool opportunity to be an Olympian. To be at my third Olympics, the oldest rider in Olympic history still in the hunt for a medal at age 46! You know what? Age is a descriptor and not a definer. It’s a number, not a limiter. It’s never too late or too early to dream. You are never too young or too old… because God is able.
Dream big and exercise your faith.
Dreaming big dreams and exercising my faith through the process has required me to believe who God is and what He says. Spiritually, it has required me to intentionally tune in and be positioned to receive all He wants to show and give me.
Again, I had an amazing ride! I’m thankful for my fifth place at the Olympics. It was so awesome to experience God’s presence in action and I am blessed to do what I do. And neither of us are done yet!