It was the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, and I was waiting to go out to the track to run my first round in the women’s 800-meter race. A reporter from my hometown had somehow made it through security. “Hi, Madeline. Everyone back home sends good wishes to you. We’re real proud of you and surprised at what you’ve accomplished here.”
I was puzzled. I had been the best female 800-meter runner in the world for the last two years. What was so surprising about my competing at the Olympic Games?
He continued, “Madeline, we’re glad you’ve made it this far, but do you think you will make it?” The sting of his words numbed my mind. What did he mean? I hadn’t considered the idea that I wouldn’t make it, whatever IT was.
Before he could finish his sentence, I sharply turned, looked him in the eye, and said, “I have learned that everybody here has come to win, and I’m no different. So you just watch me.”
As I walked away I began to think about what the reporter said. I had worked hard to get to this place in my life, yet I was now fighting doubt and fear.
I prayed, and God reminded me that I was beautifully and wonderfully made. Confidence again soared through my being as I remembered that my Creator had made me an athlete to glorify Him. I began to focus on paying my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people. I won my heat, my semi-finals, and then the finals for the gold medal.
If we focus our attention on the purpose God intended for our lives, we will never lose focus of who we are, and the reason we do what we do.