Niki Oudenaarden is a new and familiar face on the Summer Olympic trail. Tracking the achievements of the world’s best and Canadian Olympians in particular has been a Jones family tradition since our sons were little.
Niki is an Olympic hopeful from our hometown, St Albert, in 2019 ranked #5 in the world for Women’s Heptathlon. We’ve followed her quest since she was in High School.
What’s a heptathlon? THE most taxing of the Olympic events. It’s eight events in one – 100-metre hurdles, high jump, shot put, and 200-metre run on the first day; and the running long (broad) jump, javelin throw, and 800-metre run on the second day.
The Arena Of Faith
Niki is a follower of Jesus, first and a heptathlete second.
When New Testament writers taught about the high calling of Christians, they often chose the efforts of Olympians to illustrate the level of commitment required to succeed in the arena of faith. Christianity is so counter-cultural that to make progress against the cultural current a believer has to be sold out to God. 1 Corinthians 9:24 describes it as “running to win.”
Spiritual fitness gives believers the freedom to excel for God. Athletes voluntarily submit to the training regime of a coach. Christians submit to training the Jesus way. An athlete can best succeed when they discipline themselves to follow their coach’s program.
God will put you through exercises in His gym – flexibility, aerobic, anaerobic, resistance, and even agility training.
In 2012 Niki traveled to Spain to compete in the IHF World Junior Championships. She took time out of her competition to share the following with me about her fitness and faith.
“Today as I have been sitting in my room all day mentally preparing for my competition tomorrow, I get to sit back and think of my training. As I have prepared to throw my best (javelin) I think of all the exercises I have done, to make my shoulder and back stronger, while maintaining and increasing the flexibility as well.”
“There has been dedication to my athletics and training from my multiple coaches – Linda Blade, Glenn Smith, Antoine Bosombo, and my dad Tony Oudenaarden.”
“Through it all it has made me stronger both mentally and physically, but in the duration of it all there is a phase that makes me a little bit more different than everyone else.I have had the training in the Lord, I have read my bible and prayed, to create a stronger relationship in my spiritual walk.
In the end with all the hours spent training at the track, sprinting, throwing tennis balls, or javelins, or weight lifting, each movement is to strengthen my body, but there must be the balance to be strengthened from the Lord.”
“In this past year I went through a phase were I was weak in both my training in my sport as well as my training in my spiritual walk. As my spiritual walk got stronger, I felt my body gaining strength again as well.
Every day I have to go to the track and run until my face is red, and I feel weak and tired, I also get the time to thank the Lord for the talent and the possibilities he has provided for me.”
APPLICATION: Join the conversation. Please leave a comment for Niki below. Thank you.
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Thanks Pastor. This is both Jan’s passion & mine. I have been thinking about this theme in my own life for several months. I believe God is calling the body of Christ at large (especially in the Western world) to wake up out of it’s slumber & to surrender & embrace the cross– to die to self so that we may truly live!! Great theme for a series surrounding the Olympics. God’s Best To You, Jason B