The opening ceremonies for the 2021 Summer Olympics are today in Tokyo, Japan.
The Olympics is one of the greatest displays of skill, physical ability, and dedication in all the world. Not only are the athletes performing on a world stage, but they’re competing at such a high level and under such intense pressure (decades of hard work and training often boil down to a single performance) that we often never consider the very real limitations each athlete must face and overcome.
Few athletes have a trial-to-triumph story quite like Tamika Catchings-Smith, who played for the United States’ women’s basketball team in the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics, winning a gold medal in each.
Watching her perform at such a high level, you’d never know the struggles she’s had to overcome to achieve such success. It was no easy road. She was born with a hearing and speech problem that forced her to wear big, over-the-ear hearing aids that everybody could see. She was teased and bullied.
As early as the second grade, she remembers praying desperately every day, “Lord, I just want to fit in. Can I just be normal?”
It was after her parents divorced when Tamika was in sixth grade that sports came into her life. She believed that if she got good at something, people wouldn’t make fun of her. Her obsession to rise above criticism made basketball everything to her. Nothing else mattered to her. It became her god.
That level of dedication taught her perseverance, resiliency, and passion – all things that have made her a successful professional athlete. But none of it – or the achievements that resulted – were able to fill the emptiness she felt in her heart.
Yet, through it all, the Lord was at work in her life. He used sports to teach her how to work through adversity and to lead her to the Savior she’d been searching for all along.
To coincide with the start of the Olympics, we want to share Tamika’s remarkable story today on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Overcoming Adversity Through Faith and Sports.”
In addition to her Olympic experience, Tamika Catchings-Smith played for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever. She’s also the founder of Catch the Stars Foundation, an organization in Indianapolis that promotes literacy and fitness and matches kids with inspiring mentors.
I’d also like to offer you a copy of Tamika’s book Catch a Star: Shining Through Adversity to Become a Champion for a gift of any amount. Visit our website or give us a call at 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459). If you can’t afford it, we’ll find a way to get it to you.