Monday, June 5, 2017

Run With Me, by Sanya Richards-Ross

Track and field fans, or just casual fans who like to watch the Olympics, know Sanya Richards-Ross.  The Jamaican born sprinter, among other successes in her career, medalled in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games, and has been recognized as one of the world's fastest women.  Her new book Run With Me: The Story of a U.S. Olympic Champion is written to introduce young readers (I would say older elementary school age and up) to her career and inspire them to work hard and follow their dreams.

Even as a very young girl in Jamaica, everyone recognized that Sanya had a gift for speed.  Her father encouraged her to work hard and coached and supported her from a very young age.  The support of her father and the rest of the family was one of the notable themes of Run With Me.  The whole family moved from Jamaica to the U.S. in order to support her running career.  Her sister came to watch her work out.  Her dad was always there filming her races and critiquing her performance afterward.  Mom travelled with her around the world as Sanya became more well-known and successful.  Her family really did run with her, contributing greatly to her success.

Sanya's family's support was only part of the equation.  She has obvious physical traits that help her run, but her relentless hard work and passion to succeed drove her to win.  Sanya encourages her readers to follow her example and work hard, but more than that, she encourages them to follow God and find their identity in him.  "God doesn't look at our athletic performance.  He cares about our faithfulness.  Running is just what I do.  It's not who I am."

Noting that her hero, Marion Jones, had been sanctioned and stripped of her medals after she admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, Sanya writes:
I committed to myself and to God that if I ever became a role model for young girls, I'd give them something real and tangible they could hold on to.  I never wanted anyone to have a reason to rip my posters off their wall or strip my medals away.
She ran in her career with integrity, getting her fuel from natural foods, not from illegal substances.  In light of her commitment, however, I wondered about something she did not mention in this book: her abortion before the 2008 Olympics.  At the peak of her training, she became pregnant out of wedlock, and decide to abort her child in order to compete at the Olympics.  Granted, this is not a violation of any rules for competing, but killing one's baby, to me, is a much bigger deal than PEDs.  I am delighted to read elsewhere about her turning to God and the healing that he offers, and pray that other women will learn from Sanya's pain and choose life, and that women who have chosen abortion will find healing as she has.

Run With Me is full of scripture and reminders to keep one's athletic and other gifts in perspective.  Budding track stars can learn from Sanya that, no matter how fast God has made you, becoming a winner takes constant hard work.  But no matter what, we should put our faith in God and trust him.  Her track career is over, but Sanya Richards-Ross has many years of inspiring others ahead of her.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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