"Christ comes first for me"
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica’s ‘pocket rocket’ and the reigning World and Olympic 100m champion is one of several Christian athletes currently limbering up for this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. She talks to Norman Brierley about living out her faith
Getting everything you want doesn’t make you happy. I have been a Christian since I was 12. I had just started high school. Then in the second or third form I went off track because I wanted to be with my friends and be a part of the crowd – it didn’t fit in with being a Christian. But in 2008 I went to the Olympics and won. Everything I had asked God for and prayed about I got. I had the money, I had everything I really wanted, but I wasn’t happy. Then in 2009 I won again and still wasn’t happy. I knew something was missing and I decided it was time to go back to church and start living for Christ.
It’s vital to keep connected to God. I carry my Daily Bread and Bible everywhere I go and on my phone I’ve signed up for a reminder to read it. When I am at training camp in Italy, I go to the church down the road from us. They don’t speak English of course, but I do my own meditation. I light a candle for my family at home and I sit there and reflect. My pastor and friends are always texting me. Christ is in everything I do and I talk to him every day. People ask why I’m always smiling at the line – it’s because it is a privilege and an honour to run and God is with me no matter what. Whether I win or lose, it doesn’t matter to me because my talent is a gift from him.
It’s not always easy to talk about faith. It’s difficult for me to sit down with competitors from different countries and talk because we’re all focused on what we’re here to do. With my own team-mates, I do get a chance and we do get to talk about what it is that God wants from us. Whenever I’ve been to a press conference or when I’ve been speaking, I’ve always prayed about opportunities, but I don’t force anything. So if I go to a press conference and don’t say anything about my faith in Christ, it’s not because I’m not thinking about it. I don’t plan what to say. I’ve always prayed about being sincere in everything I do – it’s being authentic because that’s what matters the most.
Everything that happens in our lives God is going to use for good. When things didn’t go right or I got an injury, I used to cry and ask, “why did this happen?” But I believe God uses things for his purpose and so now, when injuries come, I try and look at things differently, such as maybe I need some rest. I know that in my disappointment and pain God is still there. Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I’m immune to injuries. I train and push my body to the limits and my back hurts – it comes as being part of the sport.
I’ve learnt to be content with what I have and I finally have that “peace that passes all understanding”. I didn’t have that before I became a Christian. In training I am happy because I’m not striving for things of this world, but for things of Christ. That is the ultimate for me. The reason he has blessed me to compete and have this money means I can help in many ways. When I am able to give to a charity or a foundation, or go back into my community and help a school or help a student pay their school fees, I feel more blessed than when I am going onto a podium and collecting a gold medal. The heart God has given me is to always give back and to help.
I think the most important part of my faith is to live it out. When people see you, they see Christ. That’s the most important and most difficult part – to live for him; for my life to reflect my speech. My relationship with Christ comes first for me.
+ Taken from an interview for 2K Plus International Sports Media www.2kplus.org.uk and used with permission.
+ The Commonwealth Games runs from 23rd July to 3rd August 2014. Further details from www.glasgow2014.com