Last February, AIA Netherlands organized a high level cycling camp for competitive Christian cyclists to train both physically and spiritually.
The camp is part of the bigger Total Athlete movement (TA) that was launched by AIA Netherlands in 2013. The vision for this movement is to disciple Christian athletes, to teach them about how God looks at sport, themselves, and to give them the tools to be a light in their sport environment. These athletes have access to people that will not hear about the love of Christ unless it is revealed to them by other athletes. Total Athlete uses five basic principles with the athletes which are from the Ultimate Training Camp series. Activities over the past two years have focused on building relationships with potential program candidates. This year there were enough people to begin work among professional cyclists.
Hosting a training camp is clearly a great way to bring motivated athletes together. This year, thanks to the help of AIA Europe and local contacts, we were able to host the event on Tenerife, giving riders the opportunity to train under perfect conditions and get physically fit for the coming season. The camp also gave them the opportunity to improve their spiritual fitness and develop new skills to share their faith with cycling peers.
As professional cyclists, these Christian athletes have unique access to other cyclists to share God’s love. The basic principles taught at the camp help Christians find natural ways to interact with others and bring in the topic of spirituality. For many of the riders, these ideas we thought where new and very inspiring.
Todd Henriksen, AIA Global Cycling Director, also participated in the camp. He has been a professional rider for three years and really knows what it takes to ride at this level. His insights helped the other riders really understand how faith can impact cycling. For many of the participants, the way they look at their sport has changed and they have learned that using their athletic talent is an act of worship - even though this happens outside a church. They also learned that God has put them in the cycling world for a reason. The next step is to find ways to share their personal transformation with the cycling elite. These top athletes now have a new motivation for competition: a more positive attitude because they are riding to honor their Creator. As a result of this event, AIA Netherlands has new opportunities. We will start Total Athlete huddles – monthly small-group meetings of like-minded athletes to support them in their growing faith.
Article author Jan Achterberg works with the Total Athlete movement as a trainer and personal coach, and he is responsible for organizing the Total Athlete Cycling Camp.
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