In August, Biola’s own “golden girl” Amy Atkinson (’11) got to experience something many athletes only dream about — competing on the world stage at the Olympic Games.
Atkinson, a former standout soccer player for the Eagles, became one of the few Olympians in Biola history by qualifying to compete in the 800-meter race for her home island of Guam. And while she may not have come away with a medal, she did exactly what she came to do: break Guam’s long-standing national record in the event.
Running in the qualifying rounds in front of London’s packed Olympic Stadium on Aug. 8, Atkinson crossed the finish line last in her heat, but her time of 2:18.53 beat Guam’s existing record by nearly a full second (and her own personal best by nearly three seconds).
“I just didn’t even think about the crowd,” she told the Los Angeles Times after the race. “I just pictured God looking down, smiling down and cheering, and that’s all that mattered.”
Originally from Oregon, Atkinson was 12 when she moved with her family to Guam, a small United States territory where her father pastors a church. Later, while at Biola, she played on the soccer team and served as a captain during her junior and senior years, but decided to pursue a running career after suffering a knee injury during her senior season with the Eagles.
After graduation, Atkinson participated in several international competitions and kept a rigorous training schedule — all while finishing her student-teaching full time to earn her teaching credential at Biola last year.
While many athletes go to the Olympics looking for personal glory, Atkinson saw her time in London as an opportunity to give glory to God.
“I just want to bring glory to God in everything I do while I am here and say ‘thank you’ for this opportunity,” she told the Times. “Being surrounded by the best athletes in the world representing every country is something I will never be able to replicate. I am so honored and grateful to be in this place. It makes you appreciate all of the diverse culture and talents. I have gotten to meet and see many famous athletes especially in the dining hall. It is all so surreal!”
Now that the Olympics are over, Atkinson is back in Guam, where she is putting her Biola education to use as a middle school teacher.
“I feel as though I have only begun my running career and still have many goals I want to accomplish,” she said. “I hope to encourage and inspire my students to get involved in athletics. I hope that through this Olympic experience I can positively impact all of my future students.
“I don’t know what future adventures or places God has for me post-London, but I am proud to represent him, my island, family and Biola in this experience.”