Ave Maria, it’s a girl!
Sport and the Jesus factor
Nick Farr-Jones, faith took a backseat
By Damir Govorcin
How many times have you watched a sportsman or sportswoman give an acceptance speech thanking God for their success?
Cynically, you don’t take too much notice.
Do these people really mean it or are they just trying to make a fashion statement?
But for many elite athletes, sport is not their No 1 priority … Jesus Christ is. Without faith in Christ, their achievements on the sporting field would pale into insignificance.
In a new book, The Winning Edge, author Peter Furst talks to 24 superstars including the likes of Aaron Baddeley (golf), Nick Farr-Jones (rugby union), Jimmy Adams, Shaun Pollock, Jonty Rhodes and Ian Bishop (cricket), Michael Chang (tennis) and Kurt Warner (American football).
Each gives an insightful account about his spiritual journey, and the pivotal role Christ plays in his life.
Victorian golfer Aaron Baddeley says his relationship with Christ is paramount to his success.
Aaron took the golfing world by storm when as an 18-year-old in 1999 he became the first amateur to win the Australian Open in 39 years.
His composure and skill under pressure were outstanding, but amid the euphoria he was quick to acknowledge his faith during his acceptance speech.
“First of all I’d like to thank my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ,” he said.
“He was with me and kept me patient.
“I knew He was there, and it was great to have Him to help me through.”
It was a classy speech from one so young, and it showcased Aaron Baddeley as an ideal role model for kids.
Despite the lucrative salary and the intense media spotlight, Aaron relies on his faith to keep him grounded.
“I’ve been brought up in a Christian family and I’ve always believed – that’s the way I was brought up,” he says.
“I never thought it wasn’t true.
“Because of this golf is not my No 1 priority; my faith is my No 1 priority.
“You can always rely on God.
“It doesn’t work out the way you think is best, but He’s always got your best interests there, and there’s always something good that’s going to come out, even if it’s bad.”
However, life as a Christian isn’t always easy, as former Australian rugby union star and Wallaby captain Nick Farr-Jones explains.
Nick spent 10 years as a member of the successful Wallaby side – making 63 Test appearances in all, with 36 as captain.
But during his illustrious career, he says, his Christianity took a backseat to rugby.
“Unfortunately, during my 10 years with the Wallabies, I began to backslide,” he says.
“I read the Bible and prayed only when I needed to, especially before games.
“In retrospect, I realise how important it is to be in constant contact with the Lord, to be consistently reading His word and seeking His will for your life.”
After finishing his rugby career Nick spent four years in Paris, where he worked in commodities marketing with the Societe Generale bank.
Now living back in Sydney, his family and faith are integral factors in his life.
“I hope I don’t lie back on my deathbed and think: ‘Nick, there are things you should have done which you didn’t do’, and a lot of these are Christian things,” he says.
“I want the Lord to use me and I know He has plans for me, which I’m excited about.
“I’m just trying to work out exactly what they are.”