EDMOND—The XXX Olympiad in London kicked off last week with much splendor, as always. Once every four years, people across the United States, as well as throughout the world, will pay special attention to sports that don’t receive much fanfare on a regular basis.

Yes, the U.S. men’s basketball team consists of athletes we embrace every day, especially here in Oklahoma with three Thunder players, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, making the roster. And there is carryover of fascination from the Summer Olympics four years ago of gold medal winners and athletes who are now household names.

One Olympic athlete who has not received much recognition, however, is Sam Hazewinkel. The former All-American wrestler at the University of Oklahoma tried out for the Olympic squad in 2004 and 2008, but fell just short each time.

This year, Hazewinkel will be in London, wrestling for the United States in the 121-weight class (55 kg). His first match is scheduled for Fri., Aug. 10.

“I am super excited and blessed to compete in the Olympics,” said Hazewinkel. “It has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I am loving every minute of it, but the dream isn’t fulfilled until I earn that gold medal.”

Hazewinkel and his wife Rachel are members of Edmond, Henderson Hills. A faithful family man, Sam also boldly makes known his Christian faith.

“I was blessed to be born into a Christian family,” said Hazewinkel. “My dad led me to the Lord when I was 6. I remember it like it was yesterday. I’m excited about the opportunity to use the abilities God gave me to shine a light for Him.”

Hazewinkel also is the third Olympic wrestler in his family as his father Dave, and his uncle Jim, competed in the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games.

“Being raised in a wrestling family has helped a whole lot,” said Hazewinkel. “Having my dad as a coach and then having a mom who understands the grind of wrestling is without a doubt invaluable. My family gives me such confidence with how much they are behind me.”

Training more than 20 hours a week, plus weightlifting and cardio around five times a week and then studying a few hours of film each week has helped Hazewinkel prepare for this Olympic dream. He also is equipped to expand his opportunities to share Jesus with others he connects with in London.

“What I have enjoyed the most is meeting others who share our faith in Christ,” he said. “I remember when I was young, my dad instilled in me the importance of sharing my faith with the kids I wrestled, and it’s fun to see how the sowing of those seeds then has paid dividends now.”

Hazewinkel asked for others to pray for him that God will use him to “shine a light through this experience.” He also requested prayer for safety for him and his family as they travel, and he asked to pray for victory.

“King David prayed for victory over his enemies and so am I,” he said.

So as you are keeping tabs on how the Americans are doing in the Olympic events this year, remember to keep up with Sam as he is representing Oklahoma, the United States and most importantly his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.