BOSTON, MA (FR) – A figure skater competing in the Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada, said besides the opportunity to skate in a world-class event, he is looking forward to sharing the Gospel with athletes from Eastern-bloc countries.
Paul Wylie, a 23-year-old sophomore in International Relations at Harvard University, says his greatest desire is to glorify God in his skating. “He was the one that got me out of the 5th place rating,” Wylie said. “I think I placed 5th more than anybody I know.”
“I kept making mistakes in strange places even though I trained really hard,” he went on to explain. Prayer and lots of support from friends helped him rise from that ranking. Now, he said, he feels a peace that was never there during previous competitions. “You go out there knowing that you’ve done everything you can do, and that it’s in God’s hands.”
This year, Wylie placed first in the New England Regional Competition. According to the U.S. Figure Skating Association, he is one of the only men to gain the U.S. National title in the men’s singles division and pairs. He was an alternate to the 1987 World Team, and he was the Men’s World Junior Champion in 1981.
Although he gives credit to his relationship with God for his successful skating, he trains five to six hours a day, six days a week. “Everybody knows I’m a Christian,” he said, “but I don’t shove it down their throats.” Wylie joined the Maranatha Christian Church in Boston last summer.
Skating is not a key for more trophies, fame or glory, he said, but a platform to share the Gospel with athletes from countries with political and legal barriers to Christianity. “God has given me a burden for Eastern Europeans,” he said.
“I believe I’m going to have a lot of opportunities to share with athletes from behind the Iron Curtain during the games.”
After the realization of one of his dreams – to compete in the Olympics – Wylie plans to stay at Harvard to finish his degree. After graduation, he has no definite plans.
His advice to aspiring Olympic athletes is to be diligent and to keep their lives focused on Jesus. “He is the author and perfecter of your sport,” he said, “and you need to have faith and be patient.”