July 30-August 5, 2012
Christian athletes and coaches shine for God at London Olympics
Reported by Sam Lee
Written by Lydia Ma
Taiwanese churches will be praying for their members who are competing in the 2012 London Olympics this month and applauding their achievements regardless of whether they step on the podium or not. Tsai Wen-yee (coach for women’s weightlifting), Lin Chia-en (women’s archery), Lu Yen-hsun (men’s tennis), and Tu Kai-wen (men’s judo) are Taiwanese Christian athletes or coaches at this year’s Summer Olympics in London.
Tsai Wen-yi is the coach of Hsu Shu-ching, who won the silver medal on Sunday, July 29 – Taiwan’s first medal at these games. He was an Olympian himself and won the bronze medal at the weightlifting event in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. He is currently a member of Talin Presbyterian Church in Chiayi and his elder brother is an elder there. “In order to train and coach at the training center in Zhuoying, Tsai Wen-yee moved to Kaohsiung,” said Tsai’s brother Tsai Wen-lung. “He is very busy during training season and under a lot of pressure. Yes, I pray for him a lot, that’s for sure!” He gave thanks to God for Hsu’s wonderful performance at the Olympics and how it also made his brother very happy.
19-year-old Lin Chia-en is one of the 3 Taiwanese competing in women’s archery in London. She is a youth from Atayal Presbytery and her father is an elder at Slaq Presbyterian Church in Hsinchu County, where she goes to church as well. According to the church, Lin’s father has been very low-key about her daughter’s participation at the Olympics because the family does not want to put pressure on Lin.
Lin contracted meningitis when she was a toddler and there were fears then that she would be developmentally challenged because of it. Her father prayed for her a lot and enrolled her in sport activities in hopes that it would improve her health. She began training at a humble local facility when she was in elementary school and soon developed an interest in archery.
Lin’s father said he was very happy about his daughter’s performance. He was also grateful for the support and love of his church and added that the church was vital in helping Lin make it to the Olympics. He said that when Lin represented Taiwan at an international competition 2 years ago and the family couldn’t afford the airfare to send her overseas, it was the church elders who stepped up and offered to pay for the airfare so that she could compete internationally.
As for the men’s judo competition, Tu Kai-wen lost early on in the competition, but this Christian youth from Tsou Presbytery wrote on his Facebook that he would continue to train and pursue his dream and he hoped that one day he would have his day and shine in the international arena. He said he was proud to be an indigenous, thanked his supporters, and said he would continue to have faith in God.
Meanwhile, Chen Szu-yu, a graduate from Tamkang Christian High School, is competing in her first Olympics. Tamkang High School chaplain, Rev. Tsai San-hsiung, said that he had once taught Chen in one of his Life Education classes. He said that Chen was born with spondylitis and had to overcome many challenges to come this far. He remembered that she had once told him that her biggest dream was to compete at the Olympics.
Tsai said that playing a sport can train a person’s character. He underscored that the important thing is not whether an athlete wins a medal or not, but whether an athlete learns enduring character traits such as perseverance and courage through a sport.