United States Olympian Ryan Hall will be one of three runners representing America during the upcoming men’s marathon in London. The 29-year-old is an evangelical Christian who relishes the opportunity to share his faith when out in public. He and his wife, Sara, attend Bethel Church in Redding, California.
Their faith, not their running, defines them. It was during college at Stanford that Ryan rededicated his life to the Lord.
“I was a runner who happened to be a Christian,” Hall told the New York Times. “I needed to become a Christian who happened to be a runner.”
The Olympian doesn’t actually employ a traditional coach anymore. The two men parted ways in October of 2010, after Ryan felt his coach had lost faith in him. He was struggling and not running up to his game. “Maybe you just don’t want it the same way that you wanted it before,” the well-respected distance coach Terrance Mahon told him.
Ryan took the opportunity to try a new and somewhat radical approach. He now runs on his own, and rests every seventh day, an acknowledgement of the importance of maintaining a Sabbath.
His wife says he’s never been happier and doesn’t miss being forced by a coach to run when his body is aching for a break.
So it probably shouldn’t have surprised anyone that after finishing second at the 2011 United States half-marathon championships last year, officials appeared a bit perplexed with one of Ryan’s answers on a drug test form.
You have to list the name of a “real person,” one of the officials countered.
“He is a real person,” Ryan responded.
Ryan Hall’s commitment to balancing his faith with his sport is admirable and encouraging. Make no mistake: he’s ambitious and gunning to win a gold medal, and even set a world record in the process.
Nevertheless, he’s not about to measure his success by a victory in London. Regardless of how the Olympics go, he said, “I’ll always look back on this as a season of joy. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s part of the fun of life, taking some chances and seeing what happens.”
That’s what I call a gold-medal attitude.
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About Jim Daly
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family and host of its National Radio Hall of Fame-honored daily broadcast, heard by more than 2.9 million listeners a week on more than 1,000 radio stations across the U.S. He is husband to Jean and father to Trent and Troy.
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