FROM GANG MEMBER TO ATHLETE

Like the God-fearing protagonist Eric Liddell in the 1981 film "Chariots of Fire," decathlete Dave Johnson says he is Olympics-bound "for the glory of God."

"I think the Lord has put me into the decathlon to be the best I can be," says the 29-year-old athlete, who began competing 10 years ago after a childhood of gang activity that involved frequent burglaries and constant mischief. After a Christian conversion that turned his life around, Johnson felt it was his responsibility to use his athletic talent to become a role model for what kids can achieve with hard work and dedication.

"I don't do drugs, alcohol, or steroids," says Johnson. "I honestly feel that when I first set myself under His plan, He gave me the ability to run, jump, and throw. I do those things to let others know the same turnaround can happen in their lives."

Unlike Liddell, a Scotsman who made world headlines when he refused to run on the Sabbath in the 1924 Paris Olympics, Johnson says he would compete on Sunday.

"[Liddell's] was Old Testament thinking," Johnson says. "Basically, it all comes down to listening to what the Lord is saying to you."

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