The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


Olympic Hopeful Relies on Faith for Success

By Tom Buehring
The 700 Club -It’s track and field’s most grueling event - the decathlon - ten different competitions over two days, combining speed, strength, agility and endurance. Olympic hopeful Mike Morrison states, “They say that you don’t choose the decathlon; the decathlon chooses you.”

Mike then, is among the chosen few. The 2011 NCAA national champion and Olympic hopeful ranks among the best decathletes who navigate the rigors of its cross training. He says,“You’re building layer on top of layer on top of layer. People look at the decathlon as 10 individual events. As you go through it, you realize there’s this technique of managing the decathlon as a whole. You’re going to have good events; you’re going to have bad events. How do you manage yourself throughout the two days of competition?”  

What Mike has managed to do is excel in the pole vault – the decathlon’s toughest event. Mike says, “It’s something that a lot of people are intimidated to do. And it’s hard to go at alone. A lot of times the missing link is that technical expertise.”

What’s the one thing that either allows you to succeed or fail? Mike believes, “You just have to be all in. You have to totally and completely commit to the jump. And if you don’t, the pole’s going to spit you right back out.”

Provoking common reluctance and fear, reminding competitors of the event’s danger. Mike remembers, “It was about a year and a half ago, I’d taken a jump up and didn’t quite make it in the pit so I fell back onto the runway and broke a rib and was taken to the hospital to finish out my season. And that was –that was after I’d gained my confidence back.”

So, when was the last time you were afraid to jump? Mike acknowledges, “I guess it’s something that I still struggle with from time to time. As you start jumping higher you have to go up to bigger poles. You start questioning your grip, so I think there’s always a small element to it.”

While at the University of California, Mike finished runner-up in the decathlon at the 2010 nationals and tore a ligament in his elbow. Then during his final season the following year, Mike broke six-personal bests to earn the national title. He says,“It was an incredible feeling. It was like everything I had worked for felt validated. Winning that NCAA championship felt like that was that one defining moment in my life.” 

With both the USA and World Championships waiting, Mike’s momentum hit a wall. He remembers, “How fast things could change! I felt like I was on top of the world and not even 10 days later I’m having to pull out of a competition due to injury. To be left wondering, ‘did I just miss my shot?’ you know, but I thought with the Olympic year coming up I had a chance to redeem myself.”

But lingering injuries and surgeries followed. The 2012 Olympic opportunity never came. Mike moved to Germany to train and regain his confidence. Restless and unhappy, he returned to the U.S. and reunited with his high school coach Rich Fulford who says, “Confidence-wise, he just was not there. He needed stability. We started seeing he was asking some questions. We could see he was wanting more.”

Mike adds, “I’ll never forget, he gave me a Bible, suggested the book of Ecclesiastes; where fulfillment can and can’t come from. Something was just missing.”

Mike started attending church where a friend helped him process the void in his life. Mike explains, “She told me that, you know, her relationships were based on Christ and mine was based on my pursuit of this Olympic dream. ‘It’s taken away from you and you’re left feeling empty.’”

Chelcie Morrison remembers, “He’s national champion, like he achieved his – like – biggest dream and he was saying he still felt so unfulfilled.” 

Mike admitted, “It really resonated. I’ve gone to church before, but I’ve never heard it like this before. It was just eye opening.”

Rich Fulford adds, “Chelcie, his wife, actually brought him in front of the Lord and he asked Jesus into his heart.” Mike and Chelcie live in Knoxville.

Healthy and focused, Mike is training for the decathlon at next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. He now draws strength and parallels from his belief, “Just the perseverance of it all, event after event, highs, lows, you know, when Paul talks about I’ve finished the race, I’ve fought the good fight, I’m going to persevere in my spiritual walk as well.”

Rich Fulford says, “I wouldn’t bet against Michael because he’s not doing this for glory, Michael’s doing this because he’s very driven. You have ten events and some are not going to go as well as you hope. But you have to leave that behind and believe that ‘I’m going to make that up in the next event.’ The one thing that makes them successful is faith.”

Mike believes, “This just whole journey has been so encouraging to me. It’s given me like a second hope at this. It’s kind of renewed my sense of ‘let’s go out there and do this’. I know what it takes to get there. I’m going to do everything I can. ‘Lord, if it’s Your will, let it be.’” 

What will Mike picture when he readies for his first event in Rio? What will he be thinking? 

He answers, “It would just feel like the ultimate worship to God our Father, like offering ourselves up as a living sacrifice and that’s our true and proper worship to Him. I think I would be so overwhelmed just with thankfulness that I’m sure I’d break down in tears.”

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