Quick to Listen/Episode 23 | 36 min

How Much Should a Christian Olympian Give Up for Gold?

Three-time gold medalist Josh Davis and Rio correspondent Tim Ellsworth on picking between evangelism and family, the athlete’s faith community, and what the Games have in common with missions trips.
How Much Should a Christian Olympian Give Up for Gold?
Image: Wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

Did you see the Americans’ sweep the hurdles last night? Do you go to bed at night still thinking about Katie Ledecky breaking her own world records? Do you have dozens of hours of unwatched pool play handball games on your DVR?

We have a podcast for you.

Two-time Olympian Josh Davis—who swam with Michael Phelps in his last Olympics—and recently-returned-from-Rio correspondent Tim Ellsworth joined Quick to Listen this week. Despite the euphoria of attending the games and winning medals—Davis won five medals during his trips to the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 games—making the transition back to the real world can be difficult at times.

“I think everyone experiences it to varying degrees, but there is a letdown,” said Davis. “When you come off a church retreat, church camp, summer project, mission trip, and you come back to the regular world, it’s like ‘Oh man.’ It’s kind of like leaving heaven.”

Sharing his experiences with young people across the country ultimately made the transition easier, says Davis, a public speaker, who just got a job leading Oklahoma Christian University’s new swim program.

London 2012 gold medalist David Boudia would relate to the letdown feeling, says Ellsworth, who along with Boudia, recently co-wrote Greater Than Gold: From Olympic Heartbreak to Ultimate Redemption, about the gold-medalist diver’s life and faith.

“Even though he had become a believer and even though in 2012 he knew that a gold medal was not the pinnacle of his existence and most precious thing in his life, I think there was still a part of him that thought that that would bring a sense of satisfaction in his life that he didn’t have otherwise,” said Ellsworth.

Instead, Boudia soon realized that few things had changed—except the level of media attention and scrutiny—and the temptation to “put himself as the center of everything.”

An eventual antidote: Boudia’s marriage to his wife, Sonny, and the birth of their daughter, Dakota, helped him reset his priorities.

Davis and Ellsworth joined Morgan and guest host Ted Olsen to talk about the biggest misconceptions that the public has about the games, finding Christian community in the Olympic Village, and where evidence of athletes’ faith has been on display during the games.

Additional Reading

Tim’s Rio coverage for Baptist Press

Josh Davis’ website

December
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Christianity Today
How Much Should a Christian Olympian Give Up for Gold?