The 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro will see 206 countries compete, and even refugees will be represented by their own team! But Catholics will also be out in numbers. Here are 3 American Catholics to watch at this year’s games. Maybe we’ll spot a lot more during the games!
1. Syndey McLaughlin
At 16 years old, she is the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field team. She panicked at the Olympic trials and nearly turned back, but then set a junior world record on the 400-meter hurdles at 54.14 seconds!! She says she prays during every warm-up and then relies on God to remember that she has been given this great talent and to use it. After her run at the Olympics, she’ll return home to New Jersey and begin her senior year of high school and take up a new hobby- juggling.
2. Joe Maloy
At 30 years old, Joe will run, swim, and bike in the summer Olympics- he’s a professional triathlon racer. In May, he placed 11th overall, and first among American competitors, at the World Triathlon Yokohama, Japan. Additionally, he placed 6th overall, again first among Americans, at the World Trialthon Gold Coast competition in Australia, and also finished as the top American in the trialthon at the Olympic qualifying process. In a Facebook post addressing the current students of his former high school, he said, “My Wildwood Catholic teachers, coaches and classmates taught me what it meant to have faith, to work for ideals, and to use that work to make the world a little better.”
3. Katie Ledecky
At 19, Katie is competing in her second Olympics- and has been shattering her records along the way. But, as she’s been quoted before as saying, it’s her faith that drives her. In high school, she served meals to the homeless, collected, assembled, and repaired bikes for developing countries, volunteered with Wounded Warrior Project, and was a member of Help2 0, which raises money to build water wells in developing countries. In a recent interview, she said that her faith is very important to her and that “it defines who [she is].” When speculation of steroid use popped up in her past, those who knew her called on her solid Catholic upbringing as reason she would never resort to such methods (she doesn’t use steroids). She attends Stanford University, not just for it’s swimming program, but also because of her interest in government and politics. Katie will swim in the 200, 400, and 800- meter freestyle events.
Bonus mentions to Kelly Murphy, on the USA volleyball team, and a few other American Olympians who are alumni of Catholic schools. It’ll be fun to see what other Catholic Olympians we can spot at Rio! And check here for other ways to enjoy the Olympics in the Year of Mercy.