SEOUL, Korea (EP) – On the day that Carl Lewis found out he was the Olympic gold medal winner for the 100-meter sprint – the second time in a row he has won the gold for that event – the U.S. track star appeared at the largest church in the world to share his saving faith in Christ.
At the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Lewis was the star attraction of the televised “Evening with the Olympians,” sponsored by Lay Witnesses for Christ. With the help of an interpreter, Lewis told the 15,000 evangelical Koreans who were present that his faith in Christ has been his source of strength through the challenging and trying times of his life, including the death of his father 18 months ago.
“Eighteen months ago, my father passed away from cancer,” Lewis explained. His father, Bill Lewis, was a high school teacher and coach in Willingboro, New Jersey. “We were extremely close and it was a very, very, very difficult time. I would not have been able to handle it without faith … When my father died, I buried the 100-meter gold from the 1984 Olympics with him. He inspired me to go on and become the best I could be in the ’88 Olympics.”
Lewis, 27, became the recipient of the 1988 gold medal when Ben Johnson, the Canadian athlete who finished first in the 100-meter sprint event, tested positive for steroids, a banned substance for Olympic athletes. In a prepared statement, Lewis said “I feel sorry for Ben and for the Canadian people. Ben is a great competitor and I hope he is able to straighten out his life and return to competition.”
Because of Johnson’s expulsion from the Olympic Games, Lewis became the first sprinter in history to successfully defend a 100-meter Olympic victory, just as he became the first long jumper to win two Olympic gold medals in a row.
Lewis said that after the 1988 100-meter event, when he placed second after Johnson, “I was satisfied because I’d given my best effort. We know the Lord speaks to us in many ways.” Then he recounted a dream his mother had about the event. In the dream, Lewis’ father told his mother to tell the younger Lewis that whatever the outcome of the race, “to not worry about it because the Lord said everything’s going to be all right.”
“So today we found out that it was,” he said.