British Olympic gold medallist athlete Jason Gardener has credited Catholic nuns for encouraging him to succeed, reports the Catholic News Agency.
At a Vatican athletic event promoting the connection between faith and sports, Gardener recounted his first involvement in sports at age six at St. John’s Catholic Primary School in Bath.
There, he said, “I was given the opportunity to participate in sports days, and I remember crossing the (finish) line – trying my best and doing really well.”
“That coincided with the Olympic Games in 1984 and I thought, ‘wow, I want to be like that.’ And my nuns (from my school) came to see me and brought some medals and said, ‘you work really hard, and be a good boy, you may get some of these when you’re older’,” he told CNA Oct. 20.
Gardener had run a 100-metre track that had been set up along the street leading to St. Peter’s Square on Sunday morning.
The British athlete had been invited to participate in the “100 Meters of Racing in the Faith” sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture. He won a gold medal for the 4 x 100 meter relay in the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics
The event was part of a festival day for sports intended to “to recover the educational, cultural, and spiritual values of sport,” the pontifical council said.
Gardener said the festival is “a very special occasion and event.” He addressed the crowds in St Peter’s Square, telling them that sports has “the power to change lives, whatever your ability.” Sports provide “values and life skills… the ability to enjoy yourself, have healthy lifestyles, learn how to win, and sometimes lose. But of course it’s about a life-long journey of being a good person and having good values.”
The athlete told CNA he had a “good foundation” and was brought up in a Catholic school.