English Gardner reacts after competing during the women's 100m first round heats in the 2016 U.S. Olympic track and field team trials at Hayward Field. Photo courtesy of James Lang-USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters

Olympic sprinter English Gardner: 'Going through the highs and lows with God'

(RNS) After finishing first in the 100-meter dash at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, English Gardner hugged her competitors and mimed scooping food from a plate to her mouth. It was a nod to her coach, whom she had told, "If you can get me to the dinner table ... I promise I’m going to eat."

And then, for a moment, that playful bravado gave way to gratitude as Gardner dropped to her knees. She beat the ground, thanking God.

"Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Oh, God, I praise you. I give you so much glory. Thank you, Jesus," she said.

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Gardner's faith in God is where she draws her confidence from.

Her parents both are pastors, and, the 24-year-old told The Washington Post, “I was taught to speak things into existence.”

“There’s life and death in the power of your tongue. You’re the controller of your fate, and life is about choices. So I always choose to put that positive energy out there.”

Her mother, Monica Gardner, even chose her name because she believed one day it would sound good over a loudspeaker, ESPN reported.

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So, Gardner said as she was headed into the Rio Olympics, she knew she was going to be on the podium.

That's despite the fact she didn't make the Olympic team four years ago and hasn’t won a world championship, and despite tearing her right ACL, MCL and lateral meniscus in 2008.

Gardner finished seventh in the women’s 100 meters.

But she still is set to run as part of the women’s 100 meter relay team on Thursday (Aug. 18). And besides, she told the Oregonian she's inspired by stories of the underdog, of the biblical accounts of Noah and Daniel in the lion's den.

She told CBN News she hopes her story will inspire others, too.

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"I think that's what Christianity is all about, going through the highs and lows with God and experiencing everything that he has to offer and being able to share your story because people relate to stories," she said.