U.S. track and field star Sydney McLaughlin recently shared how she formed a relationship with Christ before her record-setting performance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
When entering the 2020 Olympics, McLaughlin was 21-years-old and young in her Christian faith. However, in a recent interview with Sports Spectrum, McLaughlin revealed that her goal was to glorify God, win or lose.
“I didn’t know what was gonna happen in the race, but I knew where my intentions were,” she explained. “Regardless of what happens, whether you win or lose, they’re going to ask you about it. And you’re going to say the reality: ‘God gave me the opportunity to be here, and I’m really grateful for that and all the glory is for Him, regardless of what happens.”
Despite being young in her faith, McLaughlin said that a strong community of believers, especially her now fiance, Andre Levrone Jr., helped her face the world stage with confidence.
“Andre is like one of the best things that ever happened to me,” she said. “Beyond being such an amazing friend, he’s such a great man of God. He’s helped me in my walk and has always constantly encouraged me in that. And it’s been such an amazing thing just to have him as an example of what it means to live a life like Jesus. And truly, that’s what attracts me to him the most.”
“I truly feel that Andre is a man who fears the Lord and all of his actions, not just his words, but also his actions reflect that,” she continued. “He truly is a man of character and everything that he does, he makes sure it aligns with Jesus and what He would have done. And I think that’s such a noble thing to do, especially in today’s age where it’s not very common to be a Christian. It’s not very common to walk out of that lifestyle. But to not be afraid of culture and to truly abide in that and truly live that out, is rare.
“It’s truly amazing for me, and it’s been awesome to just see how things that I personally thought in my life growing up were right or were just my way of doing things truly didn’t even didn’t align with him, it didn’t align with the Bible. And it’s been amazing to kind of just grow and see you know, can be by example and be able to see transformations of myself through that.”
The couple announced their engagement on Instagram on Aug 25, 2021.
“It was a no-brainer for [both] of us,” McLaughlin said. “We knew the intention pretty early on, and it was just about kind of putting the steps in order. I love him. He’s my best friend. And we’re just super excited to see what that’s going to do through both of us moving forward.”
“[Without] meeting him over this past year, I don’t think I would have honestly been able to have some of the success that I’ve had just in terms of previous years and how I’ve handled the pressure and sports and track; he’s truly been such an encouragement in that area,” she added.
“I grew up in a Christian household. I went to church every Sunday. My parents raised us on biblical principles, and for a long time, I always knew that God existed and I knew that he definitely played a big role in my life, but there was no relationship.”
McLaughlin noted that while she grew up in church and hearing the Gospel taught, it did not become personal until a few years ago.
“Honestly, I didn’t even understand the importance or the purpose of Jesus and how all that played out. So it was a lot more of religious just right and wrong versus true relationship and connection and intimacy,” she explained. “But I didn’t think there was any freedom in that. And I was afraid that in doing that I would be handing over my individuality and my identity. So I kind of put that off and just walked in the world and lived a very secular life and it never fulfilled me. It never sustained me and I could vividly hear God in a couple of instances just be like, ‘Are you done? Are you ready to give your life over to me? Are you ready to let me have control?’ And I would literally tell Him ‘no.'”
She continued: “Because I wasn’t sure that in doing that, it would turn out the way that I wanted it to turn out. God can’t force you to love Him. So I kept walking that road. I got to a point where I was just very depressed and very low and desperately searching for some sort of purpose because a lot of it was wrapped up in track. A lot of it was wrapped up in relationships, and none of those things ever worked out or sustained me.”
However, McLaughlin said that once COVID hit, she was forced to spend more time by herself and that she started to listen to more sermons and read her Bible.
“I found a lot of comfort and peace as I started to watch sermons, started to read the Bible, things I didn’t normally do on a daily basis,” she said. “Over time kind of just building that relationship. I had people from my church out here who would do Bible studies with me and even Andre inviting me to the NFL Bible study and just getting a community with people who I truly saw living in that freedom and in that joy that Jesus brought over time, truly introduced me to the concepts to the point where then I was able to build my own relationship with Jesus.”
McLaughlin said that Colossians 3 stood out to her and opened her eyes to how God loves His children.
“The verse that really kind of just transformed my life was basically Colossians chapter three, in total that really just kind of opened my eyes and I was like, ‘Wow, like, this is it. This is what you’ve been looking for,'” she said. “Ever since truly being able to live a life that’s led by Him and understanding His love for me that sustains me more than anything secular in this world, has given me a new perspective on everything. And I know that it’s a constant journey, but definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.”
“God’s love for you will never change regardless of how you perform or not perform,” she added. “It truly just renewed my mind to understand that at the end of the day, as long as I’m giving 100% of what I have to Him, the rest doesn’t matter. I have been telling people all year for a long time track was who I thought it was. I thought I was a track athlete. I thought I was a social media influencer, whatever that means and all these things, but it’s now more than ever I’ve understood that first and foremost, I’m a child of God, and track is not who I am, it’s just what I do. It’s the opportunity He’s given me to bring all of the glory back to Him. Ultimately, the lessons that He’s taught me through it, I can now use as my testimony.
“The amount of just peace I felt that you know, Christ as being the bridegroom was gonna one day come back for me and He has already cleansed me in washed me and made me clean. There’s just so much beauty in that and I just the grace, the immeasurable amount of grace that He showed me that I do not deserve. It’s just been amazing to just sit in the simplicity of God’s love. And I think it’s been very enjoyable just to feel that and then as an overflow of the love that I’ve received, be able to share that with others around me.”
We’re sustained by donations averaging about $25. Only a tiny portion of our readers give. If everyone reading this right now gave $7, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. That’s right, the price of one movie ticket is all we need. If Movieguide® is useful to you, please take one minute to keep it online and growing. Thank you.
Movieguide® is a 501c3 non-profit and all donations are tax-deductible.