Trailblazing Olympian Madeline Manning Mims at the 50th anniversary celebration of the 1968 US Olympic team that went to Mexico City. Madeline talked with Keep the Flame Alive Podcast about her experiences at 3 Olympics and with the US boycott of Moscow 1980.

Episode 161: Madeline Manning Mims’ Olympics

Release Date: November 5, 2020

It’s part 2 of interview with Madeline Manning Mims, the multi-medal winning Olympian and trailblazer who became an Olympic chaplain. We talk with her about her experiences at 3 Olympics and her part in the 1980 American-led boycott, all of which paved the way for her calling in her gamesmaking role.

You can learn more about Madeline’s organization, the United States Council for Sports Chaplaincy at

Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!


Photo courtesy of Madeline Manning Mims.


Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript. It contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note. If you would like to see transcripts that are more accurate, please support the show.

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Madeline Manning Mims: was not born to just sit back and not do anything. I was born to run. So I’m gonna run mid the greatest festival of our contemporary society. The Olympic games is about to begin. This is gonna be they’re all completely gas. It’s giving it everything on the global pocket. Oh yeah. Oh, brilliant. Brilliant, brilliant.

But that is an Olympic

Jill: ready? Hello and welcome to another episode of keep the flame alive. The podcast for fans of the Olympics in Paralympics. I am your host. Jill. Jaracz joined as always by my lovely co-host Alison Brown, Alison. Hello. How are you today? a

Madeline Manning Mims: It’s been a rough week in America.

Jill: it’s been a rough week in America.

so our job,

Alison: this, I know our job this week is to not mention that. E word and make people

Jill: feel better. Exactly. Exactly. Oh, Hey, I got something that might make, make you feel better. Speaking of that. Oh yeah. So I ended up just getting a copy of David Millers, the official history of the Olympic games and the IOC Athens to Beijing 1894 to 2008.

This is part of my birthday present. And it, this is the official history from the IOC rings on like every page. Okay. And I, I kind of flipped through it a little bit. I’m gonna have to start digging soon and it’s like, every games has a chapter and then they also talk about some IOC stuff. So every IOC president has a chapter, right.

So I was just curious about, you know, your buddy Avery and the chapter on Avery is called wayward fanatics. And it starts off with a excerpt from an address he gave. But let me redo the first paragraph of this chapter. Avery brandage was despotic, a moralistic bulldozer, fanatical defender of Dick Cooper.

Town’s legacy loyal to close friends who were few and occasionally undeserving prominent engineer slash building contractor. And self-made billionaire champion, a public virtue and husband, his presidency, which was to last for 20 years, varied in style between that of God parent and bully. So it was unsurprising that his nickname was slavery bondage.

I have never heard that. Well, we’re gonna learn. Oh wow. He was a, the best and occasionally the worst friend that the Olympic movement could have for his obsessive commitment to the past traditional sporting ideals at the 19th century and what he perceived as de Cooper town’s philosophy, blinded him to the changes of an evolving society, almost all of which operated at a financial level out of sight and far below his acquired standard of living.

Nobody could have had better intentions yet such were his dogmatic and eventually isolated beliefs that by the end of his presidency, when he was in his ninth decade, his attitudes jeopardized the very institution that was the most cherished aspect of his life above and beyond family and friends. Now who wrote this, uh, David Miller, David Miller is now my new best.

Right? He’s a journalist in, uh, in England. It seems like,

Alison: well, he is also now my new best friend. I know that was fan fantastic because he captured everything. I hated about Avery Brundage while acknowledging the success he had as president.

Jill: Right. So I have high hopes for this book. Yes. If the IOC is willing to talk quite frankly, about some of these things.

Can’t wait

Alison: to dig in Dave and I will be having some tea when we’re allowed to travel again. , I’ll be showing up at his doorstep. I might terrify him, but then he’ll understand

Jill: but I thought you wouldn’t enjoy that.

Alison: I do slavery bondage. that? Would’ve been his B name.

Jill: I’m just now picturing like a 90 year old Avery brandage on one hand, like doing a, doing a Bboy move.

Alison: Well, he could spin on his belly.

that would be the brandage. Oh, geez. I feel

Jill: better already.

I. All right.

Well, we’re gonna have a little bit of a different show to, for you today because, uh, I was an election poll worker. So my day on election day started at four 30 in the morning and we didn’t leave the polls until about nine o’clock at night.

Then I was, uh, super giddy and up for until about one o’clock in the morning. So I’m exhausted and, uh, have to catch up on my other work too. So we’re gonna do basically, uh, our second part of our interview with Madeline Manning Mims. But before we get to that, we wanted to remind you that we’re still trying to get funding, to be [00:05:00] able to offer transcripts of our shows, help us with those efforts at live pod.

Or if you’re interested in advertising on the show, email us at flame live pod, Gmail dot. So this week, we’ve got part two of our conversation with two time medalist, Madeline Manning Mims, Madeline became America’s first and currently only female gold medalist in the 800 meter run, which she earned at her first Olympics in 1968 at Mexico city at Munich, 1972.

She didn’t get out of the 800 meter semifinal, but did earn a silver medal in the four by 400 meter relay. She also had a tough race at Montreal, 1976, and then kept training and was named to the 1980 team that didn’t go to the games because of the us boycott. Last week we learned about Madeline’s work as an Olympic chaplain and this week we look at her Olympic career and how that played in her call to chaplaincy take a listen.

Okay. So I have a question about when you look back at how you got this calling, uh, I was reading a book about 1968 and your race mm-hmm and your, your competitor, uh, Vera Nili from Yugoslavia and she

Madeline Manning Mims: dropped out

Jill: of her race part way through in her semi-finals yeah. And then you went to, she was having some issues and, and you went to go find her before your finals.

Tell us a little bit

Madeline Manning Mims: about that story. That is powerful. Probably the, the one time where God really showed me who I was in, not only in the body of Christ, but in the whole spectrum of athletics, as far as it concerned me, I began to realize who I was through that scenario, Vera and I ran against each other the year before in the USA versus Europe games in Canada.

And. Were, I mean, it was, she was the best in the Eastern hemisphere, in the women’s 800. And I was the best in the Western hemisphere in the women’s 800. And we came together and it was huge news. It went over everything, you know, some of the best half mile women are going to face each other today, specifically, uh, Vera LIC and Madeline Manning.

Okay. So both of us were scared spitless you can imagine because the tension, the energy that was coming from both of us in preparation to race against each other was very, very high, long story made short. I beat her by a lie after she knocked me off the track into the infield and I got up and was mad enough to kill somebody and ran, caught her and out, leaned her at the, at the end of the race.

I was so sick after that race because some guy, I don’t know who he was, but a big fat guy jumped out on the track. Right. As I was coming through, driving through and leaning with everything I had and caught me. And I don’t know if he thought, because I was leaning so hard that I was gonna fall again, as I had did previously in the race, but he was gonna be there to be my savior.

And he just whipped me up and caught me around my midsection and it knocked me out. So they ended up having to take me into the French Canadian, uh, training room to help me. And while I was in there, somebody ran in and said, somebody is running. They said it in French and ran out and everybody ran out and I’m laying there on the table.

Half half aware of what is going on. I don’t know what’s going on. I was afraid of the guy cause nobody spoke English and I’m looking in these, all these white people’s face and they talk in a different language and everything it’s frightened me. And all of a sudden they disappear and I fall off the table and the fall gives me a real jolt.

And all of a sudden I have to go to the bathroom, both front end and back end. And I’m, I’m in this stall, sick as a dog and just hurting all over and totally confused and I’m crying. And at, at the time that I’m crying, I began to cry out to the. And I was mad. I was like, why did she hit me? You know, that was unfair.

She should be disqualified. You know, I’m talking to Laura about my situation and I’m, as I’m sitting on the potty feeling, you know, very sick from both ends and quietly. I mean, Lord, let me get over my tempera tantrum [00:10:00] and quietly Lord spoke to my heart and just said, Madeline, you don’t ever have to hate anybody to be number one for in due time, I will raise you up.

And then my heart was so convicted because at one period of time, when she hit me and I fell to that ground and I thought your face is going in the mud, I was so angry with her that. I guess in my heart, I just want to kill her. I don’t know how, but I was so mad and the Lord checked me on it right. In, in the potty, as I’m there in the stall, he checked me.

And like, you do not have to hate to be a champion in due time. I’ll lift you up. And, and I start, I said, father, I, I I’m so sorry. I’m so you’re right. I have no, I did not bring that woman into this earth and I have no right to even want to take her out. So I repented. And as soon as I did, the sickness went away.

I didn’t feel sick anymore. I got up, I walked out. And so finally, when they were calling for us to come to the, the, uh, award stand, we got up there and we had to wait on her to get there. She gets there and she doesn’t wanna be there first of all, because she’s second. So. They announced our, everything that she would not allow them to put the metal around her neck.

She just took it in her hand. And while we were standing there, what put icing on the cake was they announced that I was the most outstanding female athlete of the meat . And during that, she took her medal and threw it into the crowd. And the girl from Germany was third. And she started hollering at her.

Good for you. If they had disqualified you in the first place, like they supposed to, I would be standing in your place. so that was inside of me. I was like, yes, yes. But I was like, I am not opening my mouth because I do not want that party experience again. I know, I know our place. So, this is how Vera and I started off, you know, almost just hating each other.

Okay. So we get to the Olympic games in Mexico the next year. And we end up in the semi-finals, uh, they’re taking the first four. We both knew that that was no problem for us to make the finals. So I started running and at the end of the race, I came through first, I was very relaxing. And I thought now, where is Vera?

Because I know she should be either close to me or in the first floor somewhere. And I kept looking and looking and I didn’t see her. And finally the next heat came out and, uh, one of our us girls was in that heat and I asked her Doris Brown and I asked her, I said, Doris, where is Vera? And she said, I don’t know.

And I said, I mean, did she walk past you as you were coming out? She said, no, I said, well, she started with me, but I don’t, I can’t. Where is she? And she, she said, I, I don’t know. And then I realized I needed to leave her alone because she was getting ready to compete and try to make the finals. So I, I went on that to our hotel and while I was in there, they said, did, did you hear what happened to thera?

And I was like, what? They said, well, she ran 300 meters, stopped, walked across the track, out the tunnel and came up on the ledge where it was, uh, some looking thing that, that it was in the shape of a sore, the stadium. And she tried to jump off and commit suicide. And I was like, what, what, what do you mean?

I, and I, I had nicknamed her, the tiger lady. I said, you, you talk about the tiger lady. Why would she wanna do something like that? They were like, mm, we don’t know. So later on, I did find out that her delegation had come to her and told her that, you know, because they hadn’t won anything during the whole Olympia that she was not to come back with anything less than the gold medal and the pressure that, that mentally put on her when there’s already pressure that you put on yourself and representing your country yourself and, [00:15:00] and your loved ones and, and being, you know, before the world that was too much.

And she had a mental breakdown and that’s why she was trying to commit suicide. Well, I hadn’t seen her or talked to her or anything until the day of my finals and on the day of my finals, I was go getting ready to go out the village and catch the bus and go over to the stadium. When one of my teammates said, Hey, Madeline, there’s Vera back there.

And I turned around and I looked and about 200 yards away. There was standing in front of one of the gates there. And there were two guys standing beside her and inside of me, I just, I had this fight, this, this thing that was happening inside of my mind and my heart, one part of me was saying, go back to her.

She needs you. Now, the other part was saying, you need to go on, your coach is waiting on you. This is your finals. This is everything that you work. Go on and you know, just, she’s got somebody there with her, don’t worry about it. And yet that pull to turn around and do something, whatever that was. So finally, I looked at one of my teammates.

I said, would you tell my coach I’ll be there in, you know, on the next month bus don’t, don’t worry. I’ll be there in time. I’ve got plenty of time. And I turned and I walked back and I remember, and excuse me, if I get really emotional about this, because I still feel as I still see it, as I walk toward her, my heart began to Tramble because all of a sudden I realized, wait a minute, she doesn’t speak English and I show don’t speak.

No, the, no whatever she speaks. Yugos lobbying. How am I going to communicate with her? And what do I say? I had no idea, but as I got closer and closer to her, I just, I, I just looked at, I looked at her and it, and it frightened me because it was the first time I ever looked in anybody’s eyes that did not want to live.

And it was really dark. And I said, Vera, Vera, Vera. And I finally reached out and I grabbed her by her shoulders and I shook her and I said, dear up. And she looked up at me and my heart fell even deeper because there was nothing, there was only darkness in her eyes. And I said, listen, you know, you’re one of the best athletes in the world.

You cannot give up. Now you’ve got to keep going, no response. And I was like, listen, there you’re young. You can go home and put this behind you and start over again. No response. And I kept trying to talk to her, kept trying to say something. That would take that blank stare out of her eyes and out of her face.

And finally, I said, D I don’t know if you understand what I’m saying at all, but understand this. I hope you can get this. God created you. One of the greatest athletes on the face of this earth and you’re young, and you’re still able to do what he purpose for you to do said go back home, find God, find who out, who Jesus is and allow him to love on you and bring up healing to your heart.

And I don’t know what else I said. I just, you know, it was just flowing, coming out. And while I was talking to her, tears began to just roll out of her eyes. Still blank. Look, still empty. But tears begins real. And I, I just took her in my arms and embraced her and we both cried. And then I turned around and I left and I went to catch the bus to take me over to the stadium.

And of course, you know, history was made. I was able to win and set a new world and an Olympic and American record and become the first woman in the United States to ever win a gold medal and opened the door for women of color of all peoples of color that the myth was that people of color could not run long distance because they only had fast switch muscles, which was a lie.

It was not the truth. And the fact that I won by some 60 meters over my competition, broke that myth to pieces. And I mean, some great things happened. Well, I went on home and it was kind to both. [00:20:00] Outstanding amateur athlete of the year, some great things happen. And I returned to Germany the next year. And, uh, a, a guy walked up to me as I was warming up and he said, excuse me, Madeline.

And I said, yes. And he said, I’m VEing a colli coach. Now I stopped. And I said, oh, said, how is she? And he started crying and I waited. And finally he said, I, I need to tell you this thera after we left Mexico was taken into, well, they called it back then an insane or asylum. She was taken where mental cases had to be dealt, dealt with.

He said, and she never spoke during the whole year. She’d never said, he said I would go there every other day and just spend time with her and just talk about any and everything. She never spoke until last month. And last month I was sitting there talking as I usually do, and she stopped me and she said, coach Madeline came back and she was on her way to her finals.

And from that day on, she started talking and he started working with her and he said, she’s here today. I was like, oh no, . And he said, but she’s not in shape yet. You know? Uh, she’s not running the 800, she’s running a 1500 just for endurance sake. And she’s working her way back. Well, about that time, I hear somebody hollering Marilyn man, and I turn around and look across the field and it’s Vera and she is running toward me and I start running toward her in the middle of the field.

We connect and we are hugging each other, you know, how girls do and jumping around and hollering and crying and everything. And she stops me and she catches me by my shoulders and shakes me. And she, I, to God, I, to God and I looked at her and I said, I can tell there’s light in your eyes. And I, I just, we just hugged.

And, um, she just that, you know, things like, thank you. Thank you. She had learned a few words of English. I hadn’t learned Yugoslavia yet. So so that’s about all we could say. but from that point on, I realized it wasn’t about winning the gold medal. It wasn’t about being the first woman to, uh, bring back a gold medal for the United States.

It wasn’t about opening the door for women of color all across the world. It wasn’t about me. It was about being at the right place at the right time, with the words of life, to give to someone who was dying. And then I saw, I said, Lord, now I see how my athletic ability works in the kingdom of God here on the earth.

Jill: Wow. Oh, allison’s starting to cry. So , don’t worry. So, okay, so

Alison: that’s starting to cry. Yeah.

Jill: Oh, I’m sorry. Yeah. Uh, go on without me now we’re 1969. How do you, then that plan unfolds? How, how does it keep going as you go on to other Olympic.

Madeline Manning Mims: Yeah. One being constantly called upon as a, a captain of a team and giving my opportunity to serve my teammates that keeps opening that door for me to give and to love and to be there as a person who would listen, who cared because, you know, uh, being an Olympian, being an athlete at that level, you can be very self-centered and I mean, it’s not irreverent to be that way, because if you don’t pay attention to yourself, well, you just won’t do well.

But at the same time, you have the opportunity to reach out to your teammates and to people that you even compete against. And I can remember there were times that there were girls that I would run against that I would reach out and say to them, what do you have to run? I don’t know if I would ask that because I wanted somebody to run with me or or what, but I really cared.

And they, sometimes some of ’em was like, well, you know, I gotta just do well. Or some of ’em would say, well, my coach coach wants me to run this time and I would tell ’em. I said, well, my coach wants me to run this time. And, um, if you’re anywhere close to me know that that’s what I’m gonna be going after running this time.

You know, cuz I, I, uh, [00:25:00] uh, was doing, you know, according to each two hundred, a hundred fifty, two hundred meters, 300 meters that I was pacing myself. I knew how to pace myself. And I said, if you’re close to me, then this is what you’re doing. Or if you’re be, uh, in front of me, uh, this is what you’ll be doing.

And just really try to help them. And even in a race, there have been times in a race I’ve just said, come on, we gotta go now, you know, just, and it wasn’t, I wasn’t trying to be a goody two shoe. I really cared. I wanted us to do well. And a lot of times, you know, we’d be talking about beating the Europeans or beating the Russians, you know, or whatever.

Then we need to run this, you know, and we need to get a, I’ll never forget the time I, I told a group of, uh, young women that were part of the 800 meters as we were at our Olympic trials that I said, let’s, let’s try to break the two minute. I became the first woman in the United States to break the two minute, but I wanted somebody to go along with me and I told ’em.

I said, listen, we’re all running really well. I mean, we’re in the best shape of our lives. We can help each other. Let’s let’s go after trying to break that two minute. They were like, oh no, no, no, no, no. Now if you wanna do that fine, you know, they can come scrape you off the ground, but they’re not doing that to me.

You know, I was like, listen, the Europeans are doing it. So it’s not impossible. All right. We’re just, it’s in good, a shape as they are. So let’s at least go out and try to do it. Let’s, you know, figure this thing out and see how we’re gonna do it. How, you know, I’ll pace it for you if you want me to, or however you want.

And they, they just would not the fear of trying to break a barrier like that was too much. And so I just prayed about it and I said, father, I’m gonna go out there and give it all I’ve got. And I just ask that you don’t let me get embarrassed. don’t let them have to scrape me off the track and carry me out on a stretch or something like that.

Please. I don’t wanna be embarrassed like that, but I’ll give you everything. I’ve got. And I did. And the thing that I found out is that deception is a monkey because the deception that all of us, that we were gonna die. If we tried to do that, it was so I told the girls later on, I said, you know what? That was the easiest race that I have ever run.

I said, once I put my fear aside and went, just went for it. One, it felt better. Two, it was over quicker. And three, once I came through the line and saw the time I got so much energy, almost ran another lap. I’m like, this is how it feels. It feels so good to be able to put out and go for it like that.

Especially if you have, uh, worked hard. And you have trained and, uh, brought your Bo body under strict training and you know what you can do, but you’re just scared to do it. If you break that barrier, you’ll find that there’s a lot of life and excitement and it doesn’t hurt as bad, you know, I thought it was gonna kill me.

You know, it did not. It did just the opposite because once I looked up and saw the time, a 1 58 something, probably the first time I broke it, I ran a 1 59, 7, but the next time 1 58 and each time I could, I could tell my body was like, Thank you. One, this got over with quicker. We didn’t have to labor so long, you know, and secondly, look at the time, this is so exciting.

So that started open up, you know, the other side for other competitors in the United States to start looking like, wait, wait a minute. If she can do that, I can do that. And they started going for it. And now today, a lot of our girls, uh, stay under two minutes. They just stay under two minutes is so wonderful to look at this, but, uh, it, it comes from a heart of caring of wanting to reach out, wanna see the best for others, not just for yourself.

Jill: So I have a question about doing an 800 under two minutes when you were competing. It had not been that long prior. That women were allowed to run the 800 meters again, because of course, back in 1928, you know, women were too delicate and body parts would fall out if they ran that

Madeline Manning Mims: out on the ground. did, did, have you ever seen that picture [00:30:00] of them?

I, I saw that film of them. They were all falling out of ground on the ground. Like they had one run a marathon, but I think it was from it’s it’s from them being told that they, they couldn’t, it, it, it was gonna halfway kill you. And the fears of it’s gonna mess up your reproductive system and no, nobody really knowing how to train them to run, uh, 800.

And it was looked at as a distance. Even in, in 68, it was still looked at a distance run because it was the longest distance at that time. The next four years, they put in the 1500 and then the next, you know, three years until they got to the marathon. But now it’s looked, looked at as a middle distance sprint.

And that’s how it should be looked at because I mean, it’s not that you sprint the whole thing, like a hundred meters. There is a pacing in it that takes place, but it’s not eloping either. It’s not a cross country run or a distance run where you’re loing. So it’s looked at different, completely different and

Jill: no body parts fall out.

That’s amazing. That’s the amazing

Madeline Manning Mims: part, right? I know. And you can still have babies

Oh, my,

Jill: I do wanna ask a little bit about 1980 and your experiences with the boycott. So talk to us a little bit about when you were first aware that this could be a possibility that the us would not go to the games and, and how that evolved from

Madeline Manning Mims: there. Right? So I was, I thought I was finished, right? I thought, okay, it is finished.

It’s done. I’m not doing anymore and everything. And then I get a, a real call on from the Lord on my life to come out and run again. And I said, for what , and this answer is because I need you. And I thought, Hmm, I wrestle with that. We had a big argument and he won. So there I am training again. My coach comes from Indiana and moves here to Tulsa, Oklahoma sets up a track.

At O are U and we get started. We start training nothing at that time that was in 79, nothing at that time was being said about a boycott or anything. So I’m, I’m giving it all of that. We’re trying new stuff, new training mechanisms, this whole thing. And then kind of a whisper comes around that Russia is hosting the games for 1980 and they’re still in Afghanistan in war.

And that is against the principles of Olympism that a host country hosting the world gains would be still in war back in the day they stopped. If they were in wars for something, the host country, they would for the games. Now, after the games. They sometimes continue on or either they work it out another way, but all this was against the very principles of having fair play and competition against, you know, between the different nations and people groups.

So I kind of got that. And all of a sudden I was asked to go speak at a coach’s convention. I think it was in Colorado somewhere. And there was a TV group that came in from Russia that wanted to interview me. And after I got off the stage, they cornered me aside and said, we’d like to speak to you about the boycott.

And I said, oh, are we boycotting? And they said, well, your, your president is calling for a boycott because of the Afghanistan. What do you think about this? Don’t you think that that’s unfair that and all of a sudden they start saying things to tell me what to say. They didn’t, they didn’t gimme a chance at the time to answer the question of how I felt about that.

And they’re, they’re trying to tell me what to say. And I got insulted about that. I didn’t like the fact don’t come over to my country and tell me what to say against my pre president and against the United States. That doesn’t sit well with me. And so once they stopped talking and had tried to tell me what to say, I said to them, well, first of all, Russia, shouldn’t be in Afghanistan during the Olympic games, because that goes against the whole principles of Olympic and, and the reason why the Olympic games [00:35:00] exist.

I said, and secondly, I know this for a fact, That there is not one of your athletes that would be able to stand up on anybody’s television and talk about or against its government or against your prime minister. I said, we probably wouldn’t see them again. So I don’t appreciate you coming and, and telling me that I need to feel this way or that way about something and wanting me to say this on international television.

And they said, uh, which means, thank you. But then I began to think, are we getting ready to boycott I’m out here working my butt off and we are getting ready to not go, what’s the deal with this? So I do what I normally do. I went and I got alone and I began to pray. And like, what’s up father? Why have you called me?

To this whole situation. If there’s not going to be a situation, if there’s not gonna be in Olympic games, you said you needed me. So what am I, so what, how do you need me? Of course, Lord didn’t answer me right then. But as we went along, I really fought. There were days because when you’re training, you’re training hard and it hurts.

I mean, there is no training without suffering. Okay. No pain, no gain is very real. So I’m out there and trying to figure out why am I doing this? Why should I keep going? If there’s nothing to go. So, I don’t know. I, I just realized that I need, I need to keep going and see what the end’s gonna be. I don’t understand.

Maybe, maybe this is gonna turn around at the last moment and all of a sudden we’re going, maybe Russia will get out of Afghanistan and say, okay, for so many days, for 30 days, we’re out, I don’t know what’s gonna happen. So finally I kept training and the Olympic trials was one of the best races that I had.

I again, broke my Olympic trials record and also won very concisely over my competition and became the most outstanding female athlete of the meet. Everything was going really well. And the thing is, I thought about it and I was like, I’m in the best shape of my life. . And, and now I, by that time I knew of the boycott and I was like, well, , you know, I was not born to just sit back and not do anything.

I was born to run, so I’m gonna run, I’ll run, you know, however, it happens. We get to the white house, we meet president Carter and his wife. And I, I remember talking to his wife and I said, just know that I’m praying for you because I know this was a hard decision to make. I don’t know what all goes through this whole process, but I would not like to be in your shoes.

And she, she calls and, and calls her husband and like, cuz he was talking to another Olympian and she’s like, honey, honey, you’ve got to hear this. You’ve got to hear this. And so he comes over and he, he meets me and um, she says, tell him what you told me. And I said, well, basically I just told her that I’m praying for you.

I’m praying for whatever. It’s causing this whole situation of us boycotting and just know that you have someone praying for you. Okay. And he, tears came to his eyes and he, he just said, thank you so much. We need prayer. And, um, so alright. When we finish there, someone comes to the captains of the teams, the different sports and says, uh, we need someone or two people that will given a response to the presidential address to the American people on the steps of the capital.

I did not recognize that anybody even knew about me at all. , you know, but all of a sudden they said, well, we have two Olympics here. This will be their fourth Olympic games. Uh, we have, um, a modern pin athlete and we have a young lady who was in track and field. And I thought, are they talking about me? And they said, you know, with Madeline Manning, please then come.

And I forgot the guy’s name, but anyway, we were chosen, I talked to him afterward and I said, okay, well we gotta get together. You know, we, we only have a certain amount of time to say whatever we need to say. And, uh, I said, I don’t know what to say, because this is from a to Z. We’ve got people on here feel that they should, we should kill the P president and the other people that [00:40:00] are waving flags and still, and everybody in between.

So I cannot imagine how we are going to represent the whole Olympic team to the American people in response to the address of the, the president. And he said, don’t look at me. You’re the one, that’s the speaker. And I, he said, just write whatever’s down that I’m supposed to say. And I’ll say it. I, so you got to be kidding.

You are not gonna leave me just hanging out here by. He’s like, I don’t know what to say either Madeline, you know? So I’m up, I’m up till like two o’clock in the morning, trying to figure out what to say. And I’m throwing paper away after a while. I just, like I gave up, I was like, that enough is enough. I, I don’t know what to say, but I’m just have to tell them we I’m sorry.

We couldn’t figure out what to say. but soon as I said, Lord, I cannot do this. I don’t know what to say. It’s like the Lord said, finally, like, good move outta my way. And let me talk about you. And so in 10 minutes I wrote the whole speech. I mean, it just start flooding it just start coming. And one of the things that I acknowledge, I think the theme basically of is that we are a.

This is not just a us team that goes out somewhere and represents you and come back and we have nothing to, you have nothing to do with you. You don’t have anything to do with us that I, no, we are a family. And I said something to the effect that the father of our nation has made a decision on the behalf of the family.

And like any family, some will agree. Some will not, some will be in the middle. It doesn’t matter. We’re still a family. And yes, we as athletes do what we were called to do, we compete. And it has, it has really been detrimental to us mentally and physically to think that all the work we’ve put in will go to knock, but we are still part of the.

Then there are those who we have looked at and realized that they’re saying you’re coming anyway. And our father has stood up and said, no, we’re not. And, and made it plain that we will not come to a country who is hosting war, who is hosting against in, in, in war. So I said, it’s been a very difficult decision, but I’m, I’m say this as time goes forward, we need the help and backing of our business, people of people who can help us financially to give the very best that we can.

We need a better system. And I don’t know, whatever else I wish I had. I know somewhere that that speech is, but where it is, I have no clue, but four years later, you off set up the most outstanding economic. Games for in the United States ever. And everything that I said in that speech came to life. And to, to say it this way, how do you know that a prophet is a prophet, is the, if their word comes true.

So the Lord had spoken a word to the nation, through me to encourage it, to, to unite together as a family and embrace their athletes that represent them as one. And so that’s my experience from 1980. Was I upset? Yes, I was in that. I was in the best shape I had ever been in. And didn’t get an opportunity at the Olympic games to, to show that or to win another goal.

But it wasn’t about the gold medal. It was about uniting our country. and, um, God used me in that way to be a vessel that would speak on his behalf.

Jill: Did those experiences then help plant that seed of the chaplaincy program?

Madeline Manning Mims: Probably, probably. So it probably deepen it because I was not that type of thing was happening to me.

Although I was very aware that I was there, um, ministering and being awaken at sometimes ridiculous times of the night and all through day by athletes who were going through some different things that just needed a listening ear or, uh, shoulder to cry on that type of thing. But I didn’t realize that I was being molded and shape.

[00:45:00] Into, uh, a chaplain, the type of chaplain that could really benefit, uh, not a religious chaplain, but a chaplain filled with God’s love that was ready to build the kingdom of God in the, in the sports, through his love. Yeah, I didn’t, I don’t think I became aware of this until my mom passed away in 2003 for, she was with us for eight years and she had Alzheimer’s, which get got worse and worse.

And the last two years was the worst part of it because she lost her personality. She lost, she was the grand queen. Her name was queen, but she was the grand queen, uh, maternal queen of our. Very classy woman, little education, but deep wisdom and knowledge and a woman of great faith who really loved her generations.

And, um, after she left, it was almost like she handed me her mantle, like go on, you know, go forth in doing the, the works that God has placed on your heart. So I, I was very unaware that there was any such thing, because back in, in the days when I was run, I remember in 1976, my third Olympic games, there was a priest, a Catholic priest that was a part of the staff, but he really didn’t do much of anything.

He, he, he, as far as I know, he didn’t have any religious services for us. One of the athletes came to me. because she had been to him and it was in distress and asked Holly, can you, he said something about, well, good luck. You know, I just, you know, hope the best for you. And that was all he had to say because he had not been trained at all to and prepared at all.

And he wasn’t an athlete and he didn’t know what to say or how to function. He went down to the pub with the guys, you know, and drank beer and sometimes got a little tipsy and, you know, and I’m thinking well, and so the athletes, a lot of times would come back to me and say, you know, we don’t need nobody like that on staff.

And I was like, yeah, you better believe it. Uh, you know, cause what is he doing here? You know that. So I’m glad that I got the experience from both sides as an athlete who went through the pain and suffering and the price. It paid to be number one. And also I went through the pain and suffering of losing at the highest level and being challenged about, okay, in fact, this, this is one, one quick story.

In, uh, 1976, I ran in the semis trying to go on to get into the finals of the 800 and ran a very lethargic race. If you keep running long enough, you’ll have those type of races, but you just hope they don’t show up at the games. You know? Well, my, this time it showed up at the games and I ended up running dead last, coming off of the, the, um, track.

I was confused. I was hurt. I was angry. I didn’t know what was going on and why that had happened. But I remember being asked and, and I don’t think had I won that. They would ask me this question, but, uh, the news media immediately. You know, just bombarded me and, and one guy stopped me and he said, listen, I know this is confusing and everything, but we have something we need to ask you.

You’ve been saying that you’re running for Jesus and that, you know, you run to give him the glory. What we want to know is, are you still gonna run for Jesus or are you gonna try to, are you gonna try something else? And I looked at him, I was like, what? And all of a sudden I realized in the face of the whole world that was watching and listening, I was being asked, is Jesus a figment of your imagination?

Or is he a real God? And so I told him, I said, you know what? Yes, I’m hurting very badly. I don’t understand. I’m confused. I don’t know what happened out there. Why I ran such a lethargic race after two weeks ago, running a world record in a 3000. I felt like I was ready to at least be on the winner’s podium.

I said, I don’t know, but I wanna tell you this, whether I’m running in circles around the track or whether I’m running somewhere else in the world, doing whatever I do, I will always run for Jesus because he’s not a figment of my [00:50:00] imagination, nor is he a crutch. He is a real God who came to the earth for my salvation and for my redemption, who I am thankful for, who loves me.

And so I will always run for Jesus. And he said, thank you very much. and walked off. A bunch of them walked off and another guy, uh, stood there. And he said, you said something that you died out there on the track. What, what do you mean by that? I said the self center, the wanting to be the best, the desire.

That I had in my heart to, to get gain another gold medal, to set another world record all of that guide. But I have found my life that there is nothing that has the power or the ability to separate me from my relationship with my Lord. And that’s what I mean in my death. I have found life and I I’m thankful for it.

I feel closer to God than I ever have. He was like, wow, I’ve never heard it put like that. It’s like, Hmm. yeah, that

Jill: just kind of stunned does that, I mean, seeing both sides of the, or experiencing both sides of the spectrum, you got the gold medal. Right. But then you’ve also had really bad performances at the Olympics.

Does that give you more credibility to the athletes you serve?

Madeline Manning Mims: Oh yeah. Yeah, because they understand a friend of mine who actually is the chairman of my, uh, board. Um, who’s been a chaplain since 84. He’s not an Olympian. He’s a theologian of just powerful, very brilliant theologian in the world, but he’s so humble, very humble.

And, um, he often says, I find that when I go to the Olympics, a lot of times, uh, young people that I will be there for, there is out of 10 competitions, there’s wedding and nine funerals. Anyway, other words, there are more people who lose than who win. And so you’ve got to prepare yourself for those who lose because there’s, it’s many, many more.

That go away with dreams broken or disappointments or disparity and feeling, you know, down on themselves where you want them to understand that you, whatever you perform, doesn’t change how God loves you. You’re still valuable in his sight and how to raise them back up to feel good about themselves. Not so much about your performance and being performance driven, but that you’re loved and, and you’re appreciated for even putting out what it took to get you there.

So, um, that’s the reality of seeing, uh, and experiencing, losing and experiencing, you know, like in 72, I stopped at the wrong line in the 800 meters. I was trying to qualify for the 800 meters finals end up stopping at the wrong line. And in doing so I was walking off the side and it happened to see out of my peripheral vision.

Uh, the girl from England, just charging forward and instinctively, I, I leaned forward, you know, and then I figured what am gonna do? You know, I’m off the track. And, um, she came over to me and said, you know, what, why did you stop? And I said, because I was finished, right. I was finished. I was at the finish line.

Right. She said, no, the finish line is up there. I was like, what? And, and I mean, I was like, unbelievable. That’s unbelievable. I asked the official standing there cuz I was in lane one. I asked him, where’s the finish line for me, cuz they’re all kind of lines for, for, you know, hurdles and relays and starts of this and endings of that all on the thing.

And I asked him and he said right where you start. Well, it wasn’t, and it took 15 minutes for them to figure out that I lost by two centimeters. I was not in the finals by two centimeters. Now, when you tell, you know, uh, an athlete who has gone out there finally, maybe, maybe made it to the finals, maybe not, but they’ve given it everything they had.

The question I have is did you give it everything you had? Did you do your best? Okay. Well, if you did, then that’s all you can do. That’s all anybody can ask of [00:55:00] you is that you give it your best. And today this was your best now weeks from now, months from now, next year, you might do something that betters your performance, but it’s still your best on that day.

And so helping them to understand. What’s going on in this competitive world that they call the Olympics or the world championships, or, you know, this type of thing. That’s part of competition. And it’s also part of life. Life will not always not be fair. You know, there are times this is very unfair.

Sometimes there’s favor and you don’t even know why it came your way, you know, just favor that it happened to happen that way. But then there’s the O opposite side. There’s the opposite side of, and helping them to get through the rigors of life and, uh, all that it has for them. Wow. Ah,

Jill: Allison, do you have anything.

Alison: No, because my mind has exploded. yeah. Oh gosh. I’m still recovering from the of stories. So don’t mind me. I’m just here trying not to stop controllably.

Madeline Manning Mims: Listen, I have been on stage and telling that and can barely get through the story because of the impact that it had on my life and helped me to see my identity in this world, the purpose for which I was born.

It’s a powerful thought. Did you stay in touch with her after that? Were you able to, since where she was, I wasn’t able to, because Yugoslavia know they went into war there, things that were going on there there’s changeups and I haven’t one time, I think, I don’t know if I, I got, I received a letter. I don’t know, but.

I had been over in Europe doing, uh, I seen contemporary gospel, gospel music, and as a concert artist and I was over in Berlin and we, we went to some other places and, um, I received a letter from her and, um, I don’t even know where it is now. That’s terrible. I wish I had kept it because I would’ve loved to say you have no idea how many times I’ve shared your story, but I have no, I haven’t, um, kept in touch with her or no, anything about, I wish I could find some of, you know, like there were, there there’s a Russian girl that constantly, she was my nemesis, you know?

And, uh, she ran a 1500 and 800 and I often wonder, I wonder where she is. How she’s doing. Wow. Just, just,

Jill: yeah. What a fascinating life and just there, there’s a sense of contentment in knowing that you’re doing what

Madeline Manning Mims: your purpose is. Mm-hmm , mm-hmm, very much so very much so now it hasn’t made me rich or anything, but rich in yeah.

Rich in my faith and rich in my, uh, love toward people. It has fulfilled that grace sense and continues to do so.

Jill: Thank you so much. Mandoline you can learn more about her organization, the United States council for sports chaplaincy. Us C S C zero and we’ll have a link to that in the show notes.

So, uh, that story of Vera was pretty emotional. I will say both of us a little. Did we cry? I think you were, you were very close. I had some tears in my eyes, but like you were pretty much reaching for clinic was rough.

Alison: I don’t know why that was so rough for me maybe. And I, I pick that back. I think I do know because growing up, watching gymnastics and all those Eastern European gymnasts and, you know, and we’ve been reading so much about how the Eastern European coaches were so abusive mm-hmm and I kept thinking about what that woman must have gone through and how she was.

Madeline Manning Mims: Trying to be an athlete. And we, we know, I, I get crazy whenever anybody gets in the way of the athlete and it’s like this whole system was bringing her down and all she wanted to do was run

Jill: and right. The, the enormous pressure on, we must bring back a gold medal. And now it’s up to you and the fear that she must have had of knowing or imagining what might [01:00:00] have happened to her or the team or the coaches, or all of them is she didn’t deliver.

And I can totally see how that would break you. Right.

Alison: But Madeline was there. It’s

Jill: just interesting how things happen like that for a reason. I know it,

Alison: it definitely makes you believe in fate or kismet or, or, you know, the hand of God or whatever you believe that these just aren’t random acts.

Jill: Right, right.

Right. Well, because it’s been a long week already and it’s only Wednesday. I thought it was still Tuesday there for a second.

Alison: And you know, it’s locked down. So we can’t even go to

Jill: Fulton. Right, right, right. So we will visit them next week and get more updates on Tokyo as well now, because it’s been a long week, that’s gonna wrap it up for this episode.

If you can help us hunt down Madeline’s European competitors, let us know, email

Alison: or call our voicemail hotline at two zero eight. Flame. It. We’re flame alive pod on Twitter and Insta and keep the flame alive podcast

Jill: group on Facebook next week, we’re talking about Olympian, biological clocks.

So be sure to tune in for that episode and as we go up to music by Archdale. Thank you so much for listening.

And until next time, keep the flame alive.

Madeline Manning Mims: What’s

sometimes you think love just a journey.

Oh, my.