“I still don’t even know that I can describe or wrap my mind around the pain that I felt,” Dana (Pounds) Lyon says, recapping her experience at the 2008 Olympic Team Trials. Lyon, a javelin thrower, entered the Trials as a likely addition to the U.S. team. Although she finished second, she failed to achieve the Olympic standard and was not selected for the team.
The Olympic standard is a pre-determined time or distance that an athlete must achieve in order to qualify for the games, regardless of their placement at the Trials.
Originally a basketball player, Lyon was recruited out of high school to play for the Air Force Academy. Following a rough start on the team, she tried throwing javelin after her brother mentioned her athletic ability to a track and field coach. Because of her petite size, Lyon says the coach initially laughed at the idea.
Lyon recalls her prayer as she struggled to decide which sport to pursue, “God, You made me a basketball player,” she prayed.
She heard a quick response from God, “He said, ‘No, I made you an athlete, and you’ll play for My glory,” Lyon says.
“I missed the Olympics by two inches.”
Approaching the Olympic Trials, Lyon had never thrown the Olympic standard of 198’6”. Still, she was confident, having thrown 16 of the top 20 throws in the U.S. that year. With a throw over 190’, she placed second at the Trials, but lacked the standard.
“I tried to go to a couple meets after the trials and chase the standard. I thought that God was going to shine through,” Lyon explains.
She came close to the goal during a meet in Seattle.
“On my second throw, I took an extra crossover. You have a number of steps that you plan out, and I took an extra step before I let the javelin go,” she recalls. “I had a feeling that this was it. The throw took me off the ground.”
Hitting the ground, Lyon opened her eyes to see her hand on the foul line, invalidating her 199’2” throw.
“I missed the Olympics by two inches. Had I not fouled that throw, I would have qualified the distance,” says Lyon. “That stuck in me like I can’t explain. I went on after the trials to throw 199’. Obviously God didn’t want me to make this team, but it wasn’t easy to receive.”
Lyon speaks boldly through her tears, telling of faith that sustains in the midst of broken dreams.
“I struggled, and asked why. The only thing that I can hear God say is ‘I am God. You don’t need to know what I’m doing.’” Lyon continues, “It hurts because it didn’t happen, but not because God isn’t God. He’s proved to me that He is God.”
A Second Chance
Since the 2008 Trials, Lyon has continued in the Air Force, fulfilling a five-year commission that began after her graduation. Currently a captain, she rejoined the World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) in 2010, which allows active duty members of the military to train for the Olympics.
As she awaits another chance to make the team, Lyon’s faith remains strong.
“What God’s doing with you through your sport gives you a platform to share your story. Maybe in 2008 I wasn’t ready to use it like that. I can only pray right now that I’m preparing my heart to be using this for His glory.” She continues, “I don’t claim to have it all figured out, but I have moved on and found some peace, knowing that God holds it all. And maybe, just maybe, He’s giving me a second chance.”
For more information about Dana Lyon and to read other Olympic hopefuls’ faith stories, visit www.beyondtheultimate.com.
By Katie Neff, AIA Communications
Photos Courtesy Dana Lyon