CBN.com “I go up to people and say that I’m an Olympic athlete. They say, ‘How long ago did you compete?’ I say, ‘I’m still competing actually’, and then I get this, ‘Yeah right!’”
Luge athlete Anne Abernathy is especially looking forward to the upcoming Olympics. It will be her sixth time competing in the games.
“I will be breaking my record as the oldest woman to ever compete in the Olympic games and the first woman over 50.”
She’s actually 52… but who’s counting?
“Because I’m competing against athletes that are 16,17, and 18 years old, some are 36 years younger than I am. For me to stay on the same plain I have to train harder, I have to train smarter, I have to train longer.”
Anne admits that training is still difficult no matter how old you are. “It was hard when I was 30 getting up and going to the gym in the morning, and it’s not any easier now.”
What’s more surprising? A 52-year-old Olympic athlete or that this luge star is from the Virgin Islands?
“Most of the people at home have no idea what my sport is, nor do they understand why I’m doing it. Why in the world would you want to leave a tropical island and go stand out in the cold?”
Anne didn’t even know what a luge was until a vacation to Lake Placid but she got hooked.
So what exactly is luge anyway?
“Luge is the French word for sled, and we go down on a very small sled on our back feet first on a refrigerated track that’s ice. We go in speeds of excess of 90 miles an hour.
“If you got on a skateboard, you attached a tow line to the back of a car, you’re going down the interstate at 90 miles an hour, and they take an exit ramp -- if you can imagine that, that’s pretty much luge.”
She’s had more than 30 broken bones but has yet to win at the Olympics -- where the difference between a win and loss is miniscule.
“In the 1998 Games the difference between first place and second place for the women after all four runs were added up was two-thousandths of a second. My victories have come in five Olympics not by winning the medals. I don’t own any medals, but my victory has been through the Lord.”
She loves having company like at the ‘94 Olympics.
“I thought, ‘Lord, you got me here. Why don’t you come along for the ride?’ I took that run, and I felt like I had an angel on the back all the way down going ‘Whhooopee!’”
January 23rd, 2001, just a year before the Olympics, Anne was competing in the World Cup.
“I remember going into that first hit going, ‘I’m in trouble.’ I hit one curve wrong and flew up to the top of the track and hit my head and knocked myself out and then I slid on the ice for another hundred yards.
“Luge ice is not smooth. The ice is kind of like cobblestone. I had a severe ice burn on my face.”
More horrifying, Anne’s brain was slammed into the back of her skull then thrust forward to the front. The result was a concussion. She began having seizures and sudden blackouts.
“I knew in my heart that the Lord was going to take care of me. He did not put me in this position to leave me stranded.”
Doctors agreed making it back to the Olympics would take a miracle. Reluctant to use medicine that would further slow her reaction time, she used a combination of prayer and something quite unique.
“[I played] these games on video where they attach the wire to your head, and on the computer I’m watching the games. As my brain waves get into the right pattern, then a rocket would move forward, and I’d get points. I’d hear bells, and it would be feedback to my subconscious brain that it was doing the right thing. I was training my brain.”
Just a few months later, Anne was ready for competition. She’ll never forget her doctor’s words.
“There were tears in his eyes. He looked at me, and he said, ‘Anne, you got your miracle. Don’t waste it.’”
She went on to her 5th Olympics and now prepares for no. six.
“The more I’m dependant on the Lord, the freer I become,” Anne says. “I’m very fortunate because I have a hope, and my hope is in Jesus. My hope is through my faith and through the grace of God.”
What will she do after these Olympics?
“I don’t know what my next step is going to be but I know that He’s a light unto my path. I know that He will show me the way.”
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