Olympian Sydney McLaughlin Levrone warns against perfectionism: 'The only perfect one is God'

Gold medalist Sydney McLaughlin of Team United States looks on after the medal ceremony for the Women's 4x400m Relay on day 10 of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 at Hayward Field on July 24, 2022, in Eugene, Oregon.
Gold medalist Sydney McLaughlin of Team United States looks on after the medal ceremony for the Women's 4x400m Relay on day 10 of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 at Hayward Field on July 24, 2022, in Eugene, Oregon. | Steph Chambers/Getty Images

An Olympic athlete is encouraging her fans to reject perfectionism, asserting that “the only perfect one is Christ.” 

American Olympic gold medalist and hurdler Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, who is well-known for thanking God after breaking world records during trials leading up to the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, as well as during the competition itself, discussed her forthcoming book, Far Beyond Gold: Running from Fear to Faith, in a video interview with The Christian Post.

In the interview, Levrone elaborated on the title of her book, highlighting how “it’s not about medals or records or titles; all of those are going to perish.” 

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Instead, she declared, “The one thing that’s unchanging is my faith in Christ and that is the most valuable thing.” She defined her life's purpose as “being able to share that truth with people and allow them to come to know and love the Lord in the way in which I have come to know and love.” 

“God has been so kind in just allowing me the opportunity to, first of all, fail without Him and realize my need for Him,” she said. “Living my life for so long apart from Him and trying to succeed in a worldly measure of what success looks like, it always left me empty even when I attained it.”

Levrone characterized perfection as “unattainable in this life,” urging readers to “always strive for excellence” and “always strive to do things … in a manner worthy of the calling of God.”

She added, “At the end of the day, we are fallen, sinful humans who will fall short in this life.”

“In trying to attain perfection, we’re diminishing the need for Christ,” she said. “In appreciating Him as our Savior, we humble ourselves to realize that we are not perfect.”

“The Lord is sufficient in all things, and being able to glorify Him through my career and through my life on the track has shown me a purpose bigger than myself,” Levrone added. “Being able to share the Gospel in those moments is what it’s all about. The point is being able to show that even in what should be the pinnacle of your career, as an athlete, is actually about Him.”

Levrone described “the joy in all of it” as “getting to direct the eyes and attention to Christ.” She identified “seasons of uncertainty or doubt” as “the times where we actually have the most opportunity to glorify God.” 

“It may be hard in the moment to see that, but for me, on a practical level, that looked like just centering my mind on the things of God. Whether it be in the Word, whether it be in prayer, whether it be in godly community, being able to pull myself from a place of self-pity to a place of … Colossians 3, setting my mind on things above. That is how you endure the trials of the season you’re in, and ultimately, that’s how you continue to grow in genuineness of faith.”  

The newly married Levrone praised her husband as someone who “leads me in a very godly way and always is reminding me of … where we serve and where we’re planted.” She identified her husband as a “big tool” in helping her grow spiritually: “He actually helped disciple me to a degree. He was a huge part in that and we started off as friends and doing Bible study and getting to know each other. But the foundation of our relationship was built on the Lord.”

Levrone detailed how, before meeting her husband, she convinced herself that she didn't need a man in her life. However, she told CP she's "grateful that God brought him my way."

The famous athlete also recalled how she used to solely place her identity on how she performed in track and field, which she described as “very unstable and always changing.” She expressed gratitude that God opened her eyes “to the Gospel and the truth,” giving her the ability to “have that firm foundation in Christ as that cornerstone.”

“From there, everything else is truly placed where it’s supposed to and built the way it’s supposed to be,” she added. Levrone’s book touches upon how she was “always striving to be perfect” while maintaining that achieving such an objective is impossible because “the only perfect one is Christ.”

Levrone told CP that the process of writing the book was “very humbling,” noting that she had the opportunity “to look back on all of the mistakes, all of the childishness” and the “good memories” all at once: “It was like a full-circle moment in just seeing how I’ve gotten from point A to point B.”

The athlete acknowledged that she was “still growing” while remarking that “God has truly … progressed me through my life.” Levrone concluded the interview by discussing how she relied on her faith in God when competing in the first race that caused her to experience international notoriety: “I was just truly giving it to Him and giving it up to Him to not be afraid of what was going to come. And he allowed to me run so freely that it resulted in that time.”

“I think sometimes we hold ourselves back because of fear, but letting that fear go and giving it to God is what kind of propelled me … to run as fast as I did,” she proclaimed.

Far Beyond Gold, scheduled for release on Jan. 30, is available for pre-order. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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