English Gardner, a 24-year-old sprinter who was told she might not be able to run again after a devastating injury in 2008, is now a viral sensation after she launched into an impromptu praise break after she won the 100-meter dash at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, on Sunday.
According to CSN Philly, Gardner's winning time of 10.74s over the distance also made her the fourth-fastest American in history and the seventh-fastest sprinter in world history. Only one woman in U.S. Olympic Trials history — Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988 — has run faster.
"Thank you Jesus. Thank you Jesus," Gardner declared as she slapped the track with her hand and broke down on her knees.
"Oh God I praise you. I give you so much glory. Thank you Jesus," she continued.
A video clip of the race and Gardner's praise was posted to Facebook by NBC Olympics and as of Tuesday evening, it had garnered more than a million views, nearly 15,000 likes and more than 800 comments.
"This was a fun one. And her reaction at the end I found refreshing. An athlete who genuinely gives God praise after doing well rather than the obligatory 'it was for God's glory' speech to a camera. Really seems she was walking with Him through the process," said Nicole Piunno in a comment liked more than 600 times.
"Her authentic, unapologetic, unashamed praise of our Lord and savior brought me to tears! I'm reminded that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father," wrote Lori Ann Hobbs in another well-liked comment.
Just four years ago as she tried to make a comeback, Gardner placed seventh in the 100-meter dash finals on the same track, according to CSN.
"I remember in 2012, I sat in the car, and I cried," Gardner said.
"I cried my eyes out and came to the realization that I never wanted to feel that feeling again. And so when I crossed the line and saw the results, I didn't really care if I came in first, second or third, I was just excited that I made the team," she added.
In an interview just days before Sunday's race, Gardner told The Oregonian that she felt like Noah in the Bible.
"I'm an emotional runner. I run with my emotions on my sleeve and you can see them when I'm on the line. You can see them when I cross the line. ... And so I definitely take this as something that will propel me to have the performance that I need to have," she said.
She explained that she gained confidence that she could overcome her struggles by focusing on stories from the Bible.
"I started reading a lot and reading stories — 'David and Goliath' and 'Noah' and 'Daniel in the Lion's Den.' Little stories like that I've heard as a little girl but kinda interpreting them and putting them in my life," she said.
"The person I felt like I grasped to the most was Noah. I felt as though year after year, I watched people have what I wanted … for me I didn't want that to happen anymore," she added.