Adding to her memorable summer, American track star and outspoken Christian Sydney McLaughlin announced yesterday that she’s engaged. The 22-year-old hurdler and sprinter, who won two gold medals and set a world record at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this month, shared a photo of the proposal from boyfriend Andre Levrone Jr., a former NFL wide receiver.
Days before revealing that happy news, McLaughlin posted a heartfelt video, opening up about the negativity, criticism and lack of respect she’s faced despite her success on the track. Although the athlete says she doesn’t “live for the approval of people anymore,” she admits that hurtful words and rejection are a “test of faith.”
Sydney McLaughlin: Fame Is ‘Toxic’
On Instagram Monday, McLaughlin posted a 10-minute video she recorded in June, days after setting a world record at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Oregon. Her initial intent, she writes in the caption, was to vent frustration; then she realized there’s a deeper message to share about how Christ is molding her. “Even in triumph, there can be tribulations,” she writes. “But how you respond, and the lens in which you view those situations provides an opportunity for growth and change.”
In the video, the runner reveals that people’s lackluster response to her pre-Olympics accomplishments really hurt. “The people I thought would be the most excited for me literally almost didn’t even care,” she says. “I find it really disrespectful that you can do everything right, and it’ll never be enough.”
McLaughlin’s “tank would be so empty” if she were living for worldly glory rather than God’s. “We were not made to be famous,” she says. “It’s toxic. … I would just like a little bit of respect.”
Critics, McLaughlin says, have attributed her success to her physical appearance, her skin shade, and even her large following on social media. “People reject truth,” she says. “I know they’re not rejecting me. They’re rejecting Jesus living in me.” The athlete adds, “I want to glorify God, and I want to be a good example to people, but our world only accepts ignorance.”
Last year, McLaughlin posted a video of her baptism at a Los Angeles beach.
McLaughlin to Levrone: ‘You’re the Perfect Man to Lead Me’
In Thursday’s post about their engagement, Sydney McLaughlin describes her future husband as someone who “possesses everything I’ve prayed for” and “the most God-fearing, passionate, honest, loving, hard working, protective, and genuine man I’ve ever met.”
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She adds, “I see Jesus in you. And as a result it makes you so easy to love. … There is no one I’d rather lay down my life for.” McLaughlin writes that she’s excited about how “this union will impact lives for His kingdom,” telling Levrone, “You’re the perfect man to lead me, and I cannot wait to follow.”
Levrone, who went undrafted out of college, spent portions of three NFL seasons with Baltimore, Carolina, and Jacksonville. Last year, when he retired from pro football at age 25, he shared about his faith—and how it’s been tested—on a Sports Spectrum podcast.
On his Instagram page, Levrone writes to his now-fiancée: “May we never love one another cautiously, but instead always be eager to love one another extravagantly, in the manner that Christ loved the Church.”