By Chad Bonham
They called her “Grandma Luge.”
No, Anne Abernathy wasn’t literally a grandmother throughout her Olympic career, but she was almost always the oldest. At the age of 29, she embarked on an unlikely journey as a competitive luger representing the U.S. Virgin Islands that lasted nearly 25 years.
Prior to competing in six Winter Olympics, she was a professional performer and told TheGoal.com that a music-themed Bible verse held special meaning on the track as well:
“For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings, I sing for joy.” (Psalm 63:7, NASB)
Abernathy made her first Olympic appearance at the 1988 games in Calgary where she became the first woman from the Virgin Islands to compete in the Winter Olympics. Unbeknownst to the public, she was being treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the time and dealt with the cancer several times during her career.
She also competed at the 1992 games in Albertville, the 1994 games in Lillehammer, the 1998 games in Nagano, the 2002 games in Salt Lake City (where she became the oldest female to compete at any Winter Olympics), and the 2006 games in Torino (where she broke her own record at the age of 53).
During her career, Abernathy had several difficult moments. In 1999, she broke her knee and shoulder. Two years later, she suffered a severe head injury that left her unconscious at the bottom of the track for 20 minutes. Abernathy lost three years of memories and suffered blackouts and seizures but still overcame significant odds to get back in time for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
“Clinging to God’s Word has helped me get through,” she said in Path To Victory: A Winter Sports New Testament.
In that same story, she shared how Romans 8:26 helped her deal with the loss of her mother and referenced Hebrews 12:1-12 as a passage that also been important during difficult challenges.
“I look at the hardships and the trials as part of my training and believe that they make me strong,” Abernathy said. “As you are going through trying times, you don’t always have the answers, so I encourage you to keep going back to God’s Word and keep praying. When you persevere, you come out a much stronger person.”
This devotional is brought to you by Museum of the Bible, a 430,000 square foot museum being constructed 3 blocks south of the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. and is set to open in November of 2017.