How Olympic Runner Morolake Akinosun Finds Her Identity in Christ After Achilles Rupture
By Movieguide® Staff
Olympic gold medalist track star Morolake Akinosun recently shared how God and a community of believers helped her find her true identity in Christ.
The 4-time 4×400 relay NCAA Champion said that her identity previously was in her ability to run track and field. Before competing in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Akinosun attended the University of Texas.
“They’d be like, ‘She’s really fast,’ or, ‘She runs track.’ That was always the adjective or the description that came after the introduction of me. I liked being that person,” Akinosun said during an “I Am Second” interview. “Then all of a sudden it was completely stripped away from me and I didn’t know who I was anymore.”
Akinosun revealed that, ahead of the 2016 Olympic games, training took the No. 1 spot in her life.
“Every training cycle is about figuring out how can I break my body. Texas sun, 100 degrees. If you put your hands or knees on the track you’ll probably get burned,” she recalled. “You’re crossing the finish line and your teammates are pulling you off the ground. And then the next rep you’re pulling them off the ground and then we strength train… We push ourselves to the limit, breaking your body apart and coming back the next day and doing it over and over again.”
In one way, Akinosun’s hard work paid off as she found herself qualifying for team USA alongside track and field superstars Allyson Felix and English Gardner.
“In 2016, when we were at the Olympic games and we were running the prelim of the women’s 4×100 relay, our second to third leg dropped the baton. I was standing there at the anchor leg waiting to receive a baton that was not coming to me,” Akinosun said. “In that moment I had that thought, ‘Wow, I’ve trained what feels like your whole life for a moment that now seemed to be gone and stripped from me within the blink of an eye.’ So it takes you to a place of realizing that you have to make what you do worth it.
“As the story goes, we got to rerun and run by ourselves and we made the final and we came away with a gold medal in the 4×100 relay. I was ecstatic. I was on top of the world but I was coming back to Austin, Texas knowing that I wanted my life to look different,” Akinosun added.
Despite her major victory, Akinosun wanted to take her life in a different direction.
“I didn’t want to be the same college girl. I didn’t want to keep being around those same group of people. I didn’t want to keep partying. I didn’t want to continue being that person but I was also scared. I was scared of feeling alone and lonely and not having anyone and not knowing what I was going to do next,” Akinosun said.
However, through NFL player and friend Emmanuel Acho, God guided Akinosun’s steps.
“I got invited by my best friend Emmanuel Acho to come to a game night,” Akinosun said. “I was hesitant at first and I was like, ‘I’ll come to this game night’ and I walked into a room full of people who were complete strangers to me but that was going to become my new spiritual community. A community of people who have very little in common besides our love for game nights and our love for Jesus who were going to become exactly what I needed.”
In 2018, Akinosun suffered an Achilles rupture that could have resulted in the end of her career. But God was faithful through Akinosun’s new community to show her that the injury was a part of His plan.
“On January 27, 2018, at the end of a race I ran into a wall. Stopping and completely ruptured my achilles tendon… I had it surgically repaired but I was being told, ‘Hey, you might never be the same runner that you were ever again. This may be a career ending injury for you,'” Akinosun explained. “I was like angry at God at the sense of I thought this is what I was supposed to be doing and if this is what I’m supposed to be doing then why did [He] take it away from me?
“My identity was built in track and field. All of a sudden it was completely stripped away from me and I didn’t know, who am I? I’m so independent and used to doing everything completely on my own and I was at a point where I had to learn to ask for help,” Akinosun added. “And that was… it was tough but I was right where I needed to be. For the first time I realized that I was surrounded by people who believed in me and not only did they believe in me, they believed that God had a plan for my life and that he was still going to be faithful through it all.”
Akinosun said that God provided encouragement and peace to her through the prayers of her new friend group.
“And that was the beginning of me really picking myself up and putting myself back together… Just because something happened that steered me away from what I thought was the path of least resistance doesn’t mean that God changed. Doesn’t mean His plans for my life had changed,” Akinosun continued. “Prior to my injury I was always focused on breaking my body down and now I had to focus on putting my body back together… without Jesus Christ I would not be who I am. I would not be where I am and I would not be doing what I’m doing. Everything in my life has become solely because of who Jesus is and who he continues to be.”
Since her injury, Akinosun earned a bronze medal in the 4×400 relay at the 2019 IAAF World Championships and hopes to return to the Olympics.
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