(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.[ad number="1"]
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.”
I had to bare my cross.....to break my chains ... I wrestled with the lord till he changed my name...And for this lord I am eternally grateful ! Generations of bondage...homelessness...sickness....helplessness the stagnant nature of life ....to my family to my friends THE CHAINS ARE BROKEN ! We are going to Rio I love you all thank you so much this moment was much bigger than me and in this I am HUMBLED #godisable #winwithme
Her mother, Monica Gardner, even chose her name because she believed one day it would sound good over a loudspeaker, ESPN reported.[ad number="2"]
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.
I'm chasing what some say is impossible I'm believing in something intangible I have faith that a miraculous thing will be done through me ...so when you ask why I'm so confident in what is happening in my life .....jus know I got no time to tell you why n how I know it's happening jus know JESUS DID IT .... N there's no failure in him !!! #winwithme #shocktheworld
A photo posted by English Gardner (@ughlyducklin) on
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.[ad number="3"]
"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.