It's funny looking back at everything. I was never fanatical about running never had any heroes or anything it all just happened.
Eighteen months before the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, I spent most of my savings buying a spectator ticket for myself. I wasn't expecting to run in those Olympics. I wasn't even rated in the world's top 15 in the 100 metres at the beginning of 1956. Then I broke Marjorie Jackson's world record for the 200 metres.
In Melbourne, aged 18, I won the 100 meters, 200 metres and another gold medal as part of the 4x100 relay team.
One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 40:31, which was given to me by my grandmother just before I ran in Melbourne. "But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired."
At the 1960 Rome Olympics, I was eliminated early from the 100 metres due to a hamstring tear and had to stay out of the 200 metres. I asked God whether I had done enough with my athletics gift and took the lack of reply as an indication that I could retire.
God meant everything to me, as from a little girl I believed that God had given me the gift to run and I used it. When I retired in 1960, I thought I had done enough with the gift I had. My conscience seemed free after much consideration. However, before the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, I heard a voice telling me to run again. I lay awake at night, wondering what to do. The voice came back again and again. In the end, I said out loud, "you win, I'll run again."
I set myself for the 400 metres, which was a new event for women and won my fourth gold medal. I thanked God after crossing the finish line. It was my secret. I was embarrassed at the time.
I always thought I was a Christian but in 1985 the speaker at a rally invited people to publicly declare their faith in Jesus Christ. When he said, "there are private practicing Christians here," I was compelled to go forward and prayed to receive Jesus. Now I try to share the good news of Jesus with as many people as possible.
Many people think that Christians are a bit "loopy." I don't mind that but I wish they would take the time to find out what it all means. For me, it means renewing the mind replacing old values with the concepts of God as revealed in the Bible.
I was diagnosed as having Multiple Sclerosis in 1969 and am now confined to a motorized wheelchair. I spent the first 10 years after being diagnosed traveling to the US, Germany and the Philippines in search of a cure. Now I have accepted the MS. I have never once asked, "why me?" Because I love God so much, I've always thought it must be for a reason.
In having MS, I stand on that verse from Isaiah, because I truly believe without doubt that my body will be restored again "as it was before."
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