She is an American speed skater who has competed in the sport since 2006. She was named to the U.S. team for the 2010 Winter Olympics and reached 12th place in the 3000 meter competition and 8th place in the 5000 meter competition. She won the 3,000-meter women’s speedskating event at the Olympic Trials in Salt Lake City, Utah, on December 27, 2013. She is currently competing with the U.S. Olympic team in Sochi, Russia, at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
When she started training for the Olympics in 2006, she had every reason to give up. For two years, she had to search for the right coach, had very little financial support, and had to work to pay for groceries, rent, and coaching. On top of that, her father passed away in 2001, and her mother began undergoing chemo treatments before passing away soon after. Many people around her expected her to quit and give up on her dreams, but she had her faith in God to rely on.
She said, “I had accepted Christ just before I made the decision to train for the Olympics in ice speed skating in 2006. I was training at a gym and I started pouring out some of my troubles to a woman. Without hesitation, she asked me if I would like to pray. We prayed right then and there on the floor at the gym. I said yes, and that is when the magic started to happen. It goes to show that God is everywhere! God is on the floor of my local gym and He is in my bedroom at 3 a.m. when I am pouring my life out to Him!”
Her faith is a source of strength and inspiration for the times when she feels like giving up. She said, “it was strange that God didn’t solve all of my problems. But it seemed as though He was giving me the strength to handle more!” She had to remind herself every day why she was pursuing her dream. She told herself that whether she succeeded or failed, she would learn something. She said, “I realize that it’s not about me at all. It’s about finishing what I started… I’ve just kept growing since the time I accepted Christ, and it’s not anything sudden. I realize now that I’m never going to stop learning.” She thanks God every day for the lessons He has taught her in her journey. Even with the risks of moving, training, and uncertain outcomes, she says there is one thing she has learned, and that is: “Success is not defined by the outcome, but by the courage it takes to chase God-sized dreams.”
Her name is Jilleanne Rookard.