An American athlete has thanked God after securing a medal in the 2020 Summer Olympics, making her the latest participant to acknowledge the importance of faith in the wake of victory.
American hurdler Kendra “Keni” Harrison won a silver medal for Team USA in the 100-meter hurdles Monday at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. In an interview with NBC following the event, Harrison proclaimed that “all the glory goes to God just to have this opportunity.”
As noted in a separate NBC interview conducted before winning the silver medal, “Five years ago, Keni walked into the Olympic trials the hands-down favorite.” However, she finished in sixth place, preventing her from competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Two weeks after the 2016 Olympic trials, Harrison broke the world record for hurdling. Harrison’s pinned tweet shows a video of her breaking the world record in 2016, accompanied by the caption, “I am a walking testimony of how incredible God truly is.”
Video footage of Harrison at the Olympic trials and the competition where she broke the world record, included in the NBC report, revealed that the athlete had a cross around her neck on both occasions.
Additionally, Harrison wore the cross as she spoke with NBC News via video in the latter part of the interview and as she practiced for the Tokyo Games as part of the network’s feature on her.
“I learn from my mistakes,” she told NBC, according to Christian Headlines. “For this to be my first Olympics and to come here on this world stage, and represent my country to the best of my ability — all the glory goes to God just to have this opportunity. … Just to get a silver medal at this stage, it’s amazing.”
Monday’s post-victory interview was not the first time Harrison put her faith on display. Her Twitter biography features the phrase “I love Jesus.”
In 2018, she told Athletics Weekly that hurdling has “enabled my Christian faith to grow.”
According to Harrison, “Having my faith has enabled me to get up so many times when I’ve fallen in the sport.”
“Without this gift that God has given me, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” she said at the time.
Harrison, who was born two months premature and adopted as a baby, also thanked her family of 10 siblings for their support.
“To be adopted, and to be raised in such a big family, and for my siblings to see the journey I’ve been doing — I hope I made them proud,” Harrison said.
Harrison’s comments following her silver medal performance come as other Olympians have used their platform to credit faith and God for achievements in this year’s Olympics and Olympic trials.
After securing a spot in the Tokyo Games earlier this summer, American hurdler and sprinter Sydney McLaughlin gave “all the glory to God” in an interview with NBC Sports.
“Honestly, this season, just working with my new coach and my new support system, it’s truly just faith and trusting the process,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more, and it truly is all a gift from God.”
Like Harrison, McLaughlin’s faith figures prominently on her social media platforms.
The athlete’s Twitter biography simply reads “Child of God,” accompanied by a heart emoji. The cover photo on her Twitter account is a picture of clouds emblazoned with the phrase “Saved by Grace.”
South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker has worn two swim caps throughout her time competing in Tokyo: one representing her native country and the other featuring the Latin phrase “Soli Deo Gloria,” which translates to “Glory to God Alone.”
Just days before setting a new record for women’s 200-meter breaststroke, she shared a prayer on her Instagram account: “Father God, may Your will be done, may Your peace fill us up, may we praise You no matter what the outcome.”
After winning a gold medal for the Philippines, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz clutched the Miraculous Medal of the Virgin Mary around her neck in addition to pointing to Heaven and making the sign of the cross.
So far, Diaz’s victory in the weightlifting competition marks the only time that the Philippines has won a gold medal. The island nation’s overall medal count stands at two, as the country has also picked up a silver medal.
As several athletes have received praise for their public professions of faith, others have faced blowback for engaging in social justice activism that critics characterize as unpatriotic.
With less than a week remaining in the 2020 Tokyo Games, the U.S. currently leads in the medal count, having amassed a total of 73 medals as of Tuesday afternoon, slightly ahead of China’s 69. The closing ceremony is scheduled to take place Sunday.