Kendrick Farris knew about God, and he made a decision to follow Him from a young age. But it was an injury sustained during the 2008 Beijing Olympics that would pull Farris back to his Christian roots and out of the lifestyle he had fallen into.
“I was right at the end of my competition and hurt my shoulder. I was able to make it through it OK, but I wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” recalls Farris, a native of Shreveport, La., and a member of the 2012 weightlifting team for the United States.
After talking with doctors about the options for repairing the damage, Farris realized his life habits would need to change if he was really going to turn things around, both physically and spiritually. He opted to take the injury to God and let Him guide him in the right direction. He decided to forgo surgery and started an intensive rehab program to work through the shoulder pain.
“I finally lined my work ethic up with my faith.”
Getting back on track with God was key to putting his life in order completely, Farris says.
“After the (2008) games, I didn’t train from the end of August until the end of December, and I had that time to get some things together in my life,” he recalls. “I knew what my goals were and didn’t want to lose sight of that. But I wanted to give it all to God and just work hard. I finally lined my work ethic up with my faith.”
Now, with the 2012 Olympics fast approaching, Farris is excited to bring a new attitude into his second Games appearance. He says Beijing meant the fulfillment of a goal and a chance to meet some great people from throughout the sporting world. Just getting to see other events and hear the stories of fellow Olympians made the experience special. This time around Farris will experience the Olympics with his new perspective.
His uncle suggested he check it out
Farris was a young man of 11 in 1996 when USA Weightlifting began branching out its training centers in an effort to grow the sport following the Atlanta Olympics. Out of 12 satellite centers opened that year, one just happened to be in Farris’ hometown, located on the Louisiana State University – Shreveport campus. His uncle suggested Farris check it out, and the pair began going to LSU a few times a week.
Young Kendrick qualified for his first national tournament at age 12 and just kept competing, along with playing football and basketball in school. But at age 16, he opted to focus solely on the weightlifting, believing that he could reach a higher level in the sport. When it was time for college, he decided to stay at LSU-Shreveport so he could continue training while studying mass communication. While he hoped to make the 2004 Olympic team, he didn’t qualify for the Trials.
Getting back on track
One day while working at a local restaurant, the TV was set to the Olympics and ironically, his weight class of weightlifting was on at the time. A coworker pointed that out.
“He asked me, ‘Isn’t that what you do?’ and I realized then that’s what I was supposed to be doing,” Farris says. “I decided right then that I wanted to be on the next team.”
That next semester, Farris dropped to part-time status in school to pour more attention into training for the 2008 Trials and team. He continued competing internationally to get exposure. As soon as he left Beijing, in spite of the shoulder injury, he decided he wanted to go one more round and set his sights on 2012. He’s hoping to finish up the last few classes of his degree after he gets home from London.
The key to his current successes
While life seems to be on the upswing for Farris, he realizes that working hard and relying on God are key to his current successes.
“What I’m doing now, those desires are from God, and He cares about those things. If we’re doing it to glorify His name, there’s no way we can fail,” Farris says. “I may not do exactly what I want to do, but if I’m doing it for Him, I won’t be disappointed. I want to share my story with people and inspire others.”
Growth spiritually has come primarily through focusing on the Bible, and he feels the promises therein don’t come without preparation on his part and awareness of the power of God to be tapped. Those truths keep him going and remind him why he’s giving so much time to the sport. Psalm 63:4 – “So I will bless you as long as I live, in your name I will lift up my hands.” – inspires and helps Farris focus during meets.
“Bless the Gym”
Farris’ motto, found on t-shirts he sells, is “Bless the Gym,” and he says the phrase has double meaning. What started as an inside joke with a friend has come to represent Farris’ philosophy: the gym can represent the physical body and the need to take care of it, or “bless it” with an active and healthy lifestyle. It can also be a reminder to bless the physical gym building he frequents with his time, talent and presence and to be a good influence on those around him. The theme paints a picture of Farris’ motivation to compete and the faith that fuels him.
“The centerpiece of my peace is God, my Lord and Savior. That’s why I do what I do,” he says. “I’ve been blessed with these abilities, so why would I not want to do my best and leave a legacy through that? I don’t just want to excel athletically, but that gives me a platform to connect with people.”
By Teresa Young, AIA Communication
Photos courtesy Kendrick Farris, USA Weightlifting by teresa young 19. July 2012 06:45