This story appears in FCA Magazine’s July/August 2018 issue.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13 (NKVJ)
Michelle Carter Born:
October 12, 1985 Hometown:
Red Oak, Texas
Texas Turned Pro:
First American Olympic gold medalist in women's shot put (2016) •
Three-time Olympian (2008, 2012, 2016) •
NCAA Indoor national champion (2006)
We have conversations, God and me. He already knows what I’m thinking, so I might as well say it.
At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, I competed in the women’s shot put. Before my final throw, I was in second place, behind Valerie Adams of New Zealand. “Lord, silver is great,” I prayed, “but I want gold. You told me I could have gold. You said it was mine, so if You don’t show up any other time, I need You to show up now and do what You said You would do.”
Then I told myself I needed to be a little more patient with my timing in the ring. I had to give my legs enough time to generate all of my power. I remember lifting the 8.8-pound metal sphere off my right shoulder, extending my arm, and releasing. The throw felt good. Once my mark was displayed on the scoreboard, I couldn’t believe it. It was the furthest I’d ever thrown: 20.63 meters.
The number “1” went next to my name, and after Adams’ final throw, the number “2” went next to hers. My dream of winning the gold medal had come true, and I praised God.
People who know me know I’m a Christian. They know what I believe, and they can say, “You know, being a Christian isn’t lame because you can still have fun; you can still have success.”
Beyond being an athlete, I call myself “Shot Diva,” someone who wants to promote women’s beauty, fashion and the Christian lifestyle.
I tell people there’s nothing I can’t do, because God lives inside me. I learned that as a child, growing up in Texas.
My parents, Michael and Sandra, played a large role in making sure I was involved in church, whether it was being an usher, singing in the choir, or participating as one of the youth leaders. I was 7 years old when I asked for God’s salvation.
Sports were a big part of my childhood too. I played soccer and basketball until seventh grade, when coaches asked me to try track and field. At first, my father questioned me. He knew the coaches knew who he was. He won three Super Bowls in the 1980s as a nose tackle for the San Francisco 49ers, and in 1984 he won an Olympic silver medal in the men’s shot put, the only man to ever accomplish both of those feats.
He told me, “I’m going to help you, even though you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.” From that day, my father has been my coach.
Through faith and sports, I’ve learned discipline and self-control. In the Bible, God tells us we have to work, even if what we want is not going to happen right away. People want a platform, but with that comes responsibility. Before winning the gold medal, I needed to be in a mature place to handle the opportunities that were going to come my way, to make sure I didn’t use them for my advantage. You have to put your pride aside and let God’s plan come through. He has given me this platform for Him to shine.
At the 2012 London Olympics, I finished fifth. Around that time, I started having health concerns. I had hypothyroidism, which prevented me from being my best. I didn’t win, but I still considered it a victory because my faith grew. None of it was a waste. I had to learn to accept myself, whether I was healthy or not, like when I had a herniated disc in my back just months before the 2016 Olympics.
Instead of losing faith, I asked God questions: “Lord, what are You trying to show me? What are You doing, because I don’t understand? You keep telling me to get ready for something, right?”
I trusted God. At that time, I was 19 years into my throwing career. It was 19 years of work for this one moment. I believed God had told me I was going to be a gold medalist—the highest accomplishment possible—but I didn’t know how it was going to happen.
When the Olympic official put that gold medal around my neck, everything I had been through and worked for was worth it. I became the first American woman ever to win gold in the shot put. I know God allowed me to have this medal, and with it I want to glorify Him and point others to Him.
Kirk Franklin has a song titled, “The Last Jesus.” One part of the lyrics says, “I may be the only Jesus they see.” I hope I carry myself in such a way that, when people encounter me, they get to encounter Christ.
Photos courtesy of Kirby Lee-USA Today Sports