To mark the end of the World Athletics Championships we spoke to USA hurder Christina Manning about her ambitions on the track and her faith.
Where does your love for the track come from?
For me, my love of track began once I realized I was pretty good at it. It all stemmed from middle school, we were doing the track and field portion of gym and the long jump was the first event everyone was doing. So my turn comes up, I jump, and end up jumping like 14 feet as an eleven year old and the gym coach made such a big deal out of it that he made me do it again then told the high school coaches about me. That was the beginning of it for me.
We are in an era full of talented US track athletes, does this hamper your progress in making teams or push you to work even harder?
The athletes of the United States are extremely talented, but I don’t believe one person on this earth can dictate whether I make a team or not, besides myself. I will say because I know it’s not easy to just go out there and make a team I work incredibly hard. On and off the track. I’m laser-focused and always looking at ways to be better.
What is your ultimate career ambition in the sport, what have you set your eyes on?
For me the goal has always been to break records and collect medals. I dealt with a hiatus in my career due to injuries but those times have passed and this year is just the warm up to the rebirth of Christina Manning.
What do you reckon you’d be doing right now if you hadn’t made it as a pro athlete? Was there a plan B?
I’m a very ambitious woman, if I wasn’t running track I’m sure I would be the reason behind many hit singles. I write music, I’ve been doing it for years. I actually had meetings with people who work for major record labels but they were afraid my time would be divided due to track. I felt I could do both, I guess they never seen anything like it, so they felt differently.
Who has had the biggest influence on your development as an athlete?
I would have to say that it was my father, he never allowed me to feel okay with being mediocre. He let me express my frustration how I wanted to when I knew I didn’t compete at the level I was able to. He’s always built me up and opened my eyes to how talented I actually was. While being a sophomore in high school I actually quit track, I didn’t want to run anymore, and I had a great freshman year. My father let me sit out that year but my junior year he sat me down and really talked some sense into me. If it weren’t for my father I’m not sure I would be running at all.
You are very open about your personal faith in Jesus, what was missing in your life, that led you to put your hope in something greater?
You know, I’m very open about it because I really want everyone to experience the love of Christ. Not only that but because he’s blessed me with so much I don’t want anyone to believe I am where I am because of me. I can’t really say what was missing exactly, because at the time I was happy, having fun, in college doing what college kids do. I truly thought I was a Christian at the time, I believed in Christ, but I wasn’t living as if I loved him. I just decided to go to this campus bible study one night and it literally changed my life. The presence of God was there and he shook some things up that night, not just for me either. Those bible studies were a blessing to my university, many people’s lives were drastically changed from it. It was wonderful.
What difference has knowing Jesus made to your life and the way that you compete on the track?
It’s been a major difference. When you know Jesus, you have the opportunity to have peace in every situation regardless of how tough that situation may be. Knowing God allows you to come to him and lay before him all your troubles then just wait. It sounds scary but its how to live a stress free life and when I compete I know either way it goes, I’m fine. Track and field isn’t my life, what happened on the cross is.
Social media is a big way that you vocalise your faith, how great is it to be able to connect with followers from all over the world and to show them what you’re about?
I seriously love to share faith. I wish I had a bigger following. Full of all kinds of people, believers and non believers. Someone’s life can be changed just by a word. There is power in words I believe and live by that. I want to be able to reach as many people as possible and let them know God is here for us with open arms no matter who you are or what you’ve done, it’ll never be greater than what happened on the cross.
People can often say, Christina you’ve got a career that you love, with great prospects. Why do you need God? What would your response be?
Well, if it weren’t for God I wouldn’t have any of these things. Whether you believe or don’t believe, that doesn’t change that God is the source of everything good. I’m going to recognize him, I’m going to give thanks, and I’m going to let the world know what my father has done for me. And besides, having a great career with great prospects is just something to have. It’s not that deeply rooted joy that you feel in your soul. It’s not that everlasting, unbreakable love. I love God, he is the source of my being and I’ll always need him.
Do you believe that prayer affects performance, does it give you an edge?
Definitely. The Bible says whatever we ask in prayer will be given to us if we believe. Multiple times throughout the word we are told just to ask and believe. Someone can say “well if it’s that easy why don’t I have this or have that”, mostly because they don’t really believe it’ll happen for them or there are things they’re doing or have going on in their life that are blocking their blessings, all it takes is faith. Yes it’s an edge, a legal one that I’m all about and encourage others to take on.