Religion and Sports
The Faith of an Olympian
You were injured at the very last moment -- during warm-ups -- right before the Olympic competition started. Yet you soldiered on and contributed to the team and competed on the bars. How do you, as a person of faith, understand hardships such as that? And how do you respond to them?
To be honest, it was a really hard time for me, and definitely not easy to bounce back from. I thought of everyone else's needs and the needs of my country at that point. I was thankful to get the opportunity to do bars, and I wouldn't have given up that chance for anything.
Finally, if a younger gymnast is reading this article and she wants to know how she can strengthen and deepen her faith through her life as an athlete, would you have any advice for her? What can you tell her that might help her find God in the gym?
There is a difference between being goal-oriented and being self-centered; I think many athletes have a hard time with that. I try to help the other girls in the gym, give them advice, or set a good example. I think that finding the pleasure and seeing the blessings that each gymnast has in their talent is really special. On the hard days it's important to remember the gifts that God has already given us and how much we are capable of doing because of Him.
To read another account of faith and athletics from an Olympic gymnast, read Patheos' interview with Stephen McCain.
Peszek was also a member of the gold-medal-winning United States teams at the 2007 World Championships and the 2007 Pan American Games. She was named the 2007 TOPs Athlete of the Year. Her parents were both athletes and her younger sister Jessica will soon enter the elite ranks. Samantha is a member of the National Honor Society at her high school in Indiana, and she will attend and compete for UCLA in 2010. She also works with Jireh Sports, a ministry to at-risk youth.