Adventist Runner Skips Olympics for God
Tracy Joseph has had a passion for running since she was very young. She participated in any sport she could. At 13, while enrolled at the Adventist school in Limón, Costa Rica, she heard of the city’s 200-meter race and went with friends to see if she could participate. Without any formal training, she entered the race and beat the favorite. From there she went on to represent the Limón Province in a national competition.
NEVER ON SABBATH: Tracy Joseph (right) takes the victory for her team after running the final leg of the 4 x 100 meters relay during the 2010 Central American Games held in Panama. She had the opportunity to represent Costa Rica at the 2012 Olympics, but declined participating in a competition rescheduled from Sunday to Sabbath.Today, Joseph, 24, has collected many medals from national and international athletic events from Costa Rica, Central America, and South America to as far away as Finland. Recently, with her eyes set on this year’s summer Olympic Games in London, England, she flew to Colombia in June to compete in two final international events. She completed the first race in Cali, but hours before traveling to Bogota for the second she got some unexpected news.
She had been training to improve her personal best 200-meter dash time from 23.78 seconds to 23.30 seconds, which would qualify her to compete in the Olympic Games. With that goal in mind, she was preparing to leave for Bogota when she was informed that the final race there had been rescheduled from Sunday to Saturday.
Upon hearing this, Joseph packed her bags and headed home.
It’s not a decision that haunts her, as she is strongly convicted about keeping the Sabbath. But she admits that coming so close to a shot at the Olympic Games, she had wrestled with her thoughts.
“I struggled that night in my hotel, but I understood that my victories should be hand in hand with Jesus. If I would have gone ahead with the race, I would have gone against His will,” says Joseph, who also explained that it was too late to appeal or enter another qualifying race.
Weeks later she had no regrets about her decision. She enjoyed the summer Olympic Games on TV in her home.
“That decision has taught me to change more things in my life for the better and has been a blessing for others as well,” explains Joseph, who grew up in an Adventist home and was baptized at age 9.
She had to put her running on hold once before while completing her business degree at the university in San José, Costa Rica. She says adjusting from what she loves to do to what she must do is always a process.
“I love, love running; I can’t even express the rush I feel,” she says. “Besides competing, I get to know my body better, and it motivates me to do things better each day, learning not to give up easily and always give my best in everything I do, always putting God in first place.”
—Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division