Today, it really seems preposterous to think that athletics early on didn't look very promising for Jim Ryun! In Junior High, he was cut from the basketball and track and field teams at school. But get this, he was even cut from the baseball team at his church! One of the reasons was that at age five, he had a bout with measles that left him with only half his hearing.
Jim recalls, "I remember praying one night: 'God, if you've got a plan for my life, please show it to me, because I could use it right now'!"
Jim Ryun could be "Exhibit A" to show that God answers prayer! Just two years later, in 1964, the Wichita, Kansas native became the world's first high school athlete to break four minutes in the mile! He set an American record and went on to compete in three Olympics.
"It really did change everything," Ryun says when he reflects on his first sub four minute mile. In 1966, as a college sophomore he set his first world record at 3 minutes, 51.3 seconds and was named "Sportsman of the Year" by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. He held the record for nearly eight years and set world records in five other events. In 1980 he was inducted into the "U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame."
In May of 1972, he and Anne, his wife became Christians through with witness of some friends. His new found faith in Christ provided a fulfillment that his swift feet could not. He says, "I wanted the peace that only comes through Jesus Christ."
Not bad for a partially deaf kid....who struggled as a teen to find his niche in sports and life. "Even failure God uses in your life," he says!
"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward" (Philippians 3:13).