Stephanie Brown Trafton: “Even to those with great faith, success can be a distraction.”

A discus thrower has learned to rely on God even while winning gold.

  • by Teresa Young

Ironically, it was a new pair of shoes that recently reminded Olympian Stephanie Brown Trafton of her need to trust God. The shoes were special, made just for her. But they weren’t broken in yet, and the resulting discomfort threw her off her game just enough to drive home the lesson.

“God was telling me to change my shoes, but (I didn’t want to because) they were new, and I was the only one that had them. God was trying to tell me the right thing to do, I pushed it away, and I had the most devastating competition of my professional career,” she recalls. “My performance wasn’t blessed. I realized I need Him so much more to guide me through these times. Even at the highest heights, you need Him so much more.”

Those heights include being a member of her third Olympic team representing USA Track and Field. After earning gold in discus in 2008 (the first gold medal in the event for the U.S. since 1932), Trafton was thrust onto an emotional roller coaster that finally caused her to shut down.

Once again she reached out to God.

 “I felt He was allowing me to take a s tep back and lean on Him, because after success, people start to think they can do this on their own and don’t need God’s help anymore,” she recalls. “Even to those with great faith, it can be a distraction. You falter, realize you need Him, step back and put it all back into balance again.”

For Trafton, that balance is only achieved when equal attention is being paid to three key elements of her life: her relationship with husband Jerry and her family; her relationship to her sport and being a good ambassador for track and field; and her relationship with God through faith.

“In my life I’ve got my pillars of strength, and I need more than one,” she explains. “If one of those starts to falter, it won’t hold up the whole house. I have to balance all three. If I’m not spending my time in the Word (the Bible) and praying, everything goes out of kilter.”

In preparing for this summer, Trafton has worked on her strength levels, lost 20 pounds and dedicated her attention full-time to training for the Trials. This third Olympic appearance will be extra special since London is the homeland of her mother, and many extended family members still live there. A large contingency of family and friends will be cheering her on as she attempts to bring home another gold for the U.S.

“I’ve done everything it takes to become an Olympic champion,” she says. “It takes so much more dedication than people realize. I did all I knew would put me back on the medal stand.

“I work in faith knowing that I’m performing to the best of my ability and whatever happens, happens. I can do what I know my body knows how to do, even if I’m scared to fail. I know what I need to do and God’s going to determine the outcome.”