Maya DiRado is a rookie swimmer in the Rio Olympics this year, but you might not know that after taking a look at her medal haul. She has won a gold medal with the 4X200m team, a silver in the 400m individual medley, a bronze in the 200m individual medley and finally she ousted the favored “Iron Lady” of Hungary, Katinka Hosszu, out of the gold medal in the 200m backstroke. You might think this rookie has God’s favor. However, DiRado claims she doesn’t think God cares about her swimming that much.
But don’t get DiRado wrong. She may not think God cares about her swimming, but he does care “about my soul and whether I’m bringing his love and mercy into the world.” In an interview with Christianity Today, DiRado explains that “knowing that I’m a child of God and that his love for me is determined by nothing I can achieve or do on my own has given me a quiet confidence.”
DiRado has a healthy perspective on swimming, saying it’s “a pretty selfish activity, and so I’ve always known that it can’t be my whole world.” This might explain DiRado’s determination to retire from the sport following her first and only Olympic games. In her words, “It may be hard for some people to understand, but I’d rather go out on a high with this amazing experience than to continue until I hate it or I’m no longer competing at a high level. I’ll end with a great taste in my mouth and absolutely no regrets about what could have been.”
DiRado is also a very driven person outside the pool. At just 23 years of age, she has already graduated from Stanford, gotten married and secured a consulting job awaiting her in Atlanta. This new life she’s stepping into will likely make the transition from Olympic swimmer to desk jockey easier.
DiRado is clearly very likable, despite being in a competitive sport. She says, “It’s never been about winning or beating other people.” Instead, she sees swimming as a chance to set goals and figure out how to achieve them. If you had the privilege of watching her race, a huge smile emerges across her face whenever the race is finished. She is then quick to tell her competitors good job and give them a hug.
Franklin Graham has commented on DiRado’s achievements and her admirable faith. On his FaceBook page, he said, “This young woman’s winning attitude goes far beyond swimming.” Maya DiRado is not the only Christian in the Olympic games. There are several who are competing to the best of their ability and following Christ at the same time.
It’s refreshing to hear of athletes who are putting their relationship with Christ above their desire to win a lot of medals.