LONDON – Jacob Wukie had little reason to feel confident heading into this year’s Olympic archery trials.
Stomach problems had plagued him for weeks, significantly cutting into his training plans. In his preparation for the trials, Wukie had hoped to shoot 350-400 arrows a day. One week, he only shot 500 arrows total.
“I just had to learn to be OK with not being able to give it all I had and trust that the Lord would be glorified through that,” Wukie said.
Despite the lack of training, Wukie kept advancing through the trials. On the last day of the third and final round, his closest competitor faltered, and Wukie made the Olympic team by the slimmest of margins.
When he stepped onto the field to compete in London, Wukie certainly wanted to win. But more than that, he says he wants to represent Christ well on one of the world’s biggest athletic platforms.
“For me, my worth is in the fact that I am saved. I’m a Christian. I’m in Christ,” Wukie said. “That’s where my worth comes from. My goal is to glorify God and to do His will.
“Right now, I’m shooting archery,” he continued. “I believe that wherever we are, we’re supposed to do everything to the best of our ability. So I’m working as hard as I can in training in archery to be the best that I’m able to be.”
U.S. Olympic archer Jacob Wukie says he wants to win, but more than that he wants to represent Christ well on one of the world’s biggest athletic platforms.
Wukie has learned to trust God with the results of his archery competitions, whatever the outcome may be. The 2012 Olympic trials marked a stark contrast to the trials four years earlier, when Wukie had spent countless hours preparing for the competition, only to find himself overmatched and unready for that level of competition.
That helplessness caused a great amount of anxiety and frustration.
“Even though I intellectually believed that God was in control and had a good plan for my life, and that all things work together for good for those who are Christians, I kind of proved to myself that I didn’t actually believe it, because I was so worried about all of these things that had gone wrong,” he said.
Wukie placed 17th when only the top 16 archers advanced, effectively ending his chances at making the 2008 Olympic team in Beijing. Prior to those trials, Wukie had prayed that God would change his heart and teach him to trust in His leading and His plans.
“After a couple of months I realized that the Lord had changed my heart, that I was excited about whatever the future was, even though I didn’t know what it was,” he recalled.
A week later, the national coach informed him that another archer had pulled out of the competition and that Wukie was back in the top 16. He continued with the Olympic trials, ultimately finishing fourth and serving as an alternate to the 2008 Olympic team.
“Just through everything that the Lord had brought me through at that point, I knew that I was where He wanted me to be,” Wukie said. “I wasn’t on the team and didn’t end up competing in Beijing, but He had taught me to trust Him.”
That lesson was an invaluable one for Wukie, and one he will carry with him into the 2012 Olympics, where he is a full-fledged member of the U.S. team.
“Whether I win or don’t, whether I win the gold medal or go out my first match, my prayer is going to be that God will be glorified in my performance and in how others see me,” Wukie said. “I’ll pray that others around me will be able to see the Lord through me and my actions and my performance.”
Wukie, who also competes on the U.S. archery men’s team, received a silver medal on Day 1 of the Olympics, along with Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski. The U.S. team was bested by Italy in the final. He begins competing July 31 in the individual sport.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Ellsworth is editor of BPSports (www.bpsports.net) and director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.)