Monday, February 15, 2010

A true champion

Chances are you've already seen this story, but it's too good not to share:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Twelve years ago at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, a 17-year-old speedskating prodigy named Kirstin Holum was tapped for future greatness.

When Holum placed sixth in the 3,000 meters – one of the most grueling disciplines in the women’s program, a lung-scraping four-minute bust of lactic acid torture – speedskating insiders predicted a golden future and speculated she may not even reach her peak for another decade. [...]

Despite an ongoing battle with exercise-induced asthma, Holum was a champion waiting to happen. Instead, Nagano would signal the final time she would pull on a pair of skates with competitive intent.

From that point on, her life began an entirely different journey.

“Speedskating was such a huge part of my life,” Holumn said in a telephone interview with Yahoo! Sports. “I still loved the sport, but I had this incredibly strong calling that it was time to move on and take a different path in life.”

There is no television and no internet at St. Joseph’s Convent in Leeds, England, meaning Holum won’t get to watch the Winter Olympics where she was supposed to become a star.

The peaceful surrounds of the convent is where Holum, now known as Sister Catherine, devotes her life to religious service as a Franciscan nun. That calling had begun on a trip to Our Lady of Fatima, a holy site in Portugal famed for a series of religious visions that appeared nearly a century ago. It was outside the Fatima basilica where Holum decided that a path of religious dedication, not frozen skating lanes, would be her destiny.

“It is funny now to think of how different my life is now,” she said. “I had the wonderful privilege of being able to compete as an Olympian, and now I am blessed to able to serve God and help those less fortunate.”

See pictures of Sr. Catherine in Leeds here; and do look at the sisters' mission and way of life!

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