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The Bible verse that has taken a prominent place in the Olympics

Many Olympians have turned to Bible scriptures for strength and inspiration.
Many Olympians have turned to Bible scriptures for strength and inspiration.
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Retired Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes recently revealed the "prayer" that she typically had in her head just before entering into tough competitions — a Bible verse that she said helped to calm and prepare her: Philippians 4:13.

That verse, which reads, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," is often used by Christians when they face difficult or trying tasks, and it has been often cited among U.S. Olympians as they detail their personal journeys.

Dawes' mention of the verse came during an interview on Tuesday with "Good Morning America" co-host Lara Spencer.

"What do you think they do in the moments before? How do you control your breathing when you're — when you’re walking out there and you have to look totally composed?" Spencer asked. "How do you guys — how do they do it today?"

Dawes, a gold medalist who competed as a gymnast in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympic games, responded that her Christian faith always played a major role in her preparation.

"I would say, for myself, I always relied on my faith. I always had a prayer in my head — 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,'" she said. "Many of those young girls may have that same mindset as well."

Watch her comments below:

Former Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney — who is known for her now-infamous "unimpressed" face that went viral during the 2012 Olympic Games — agreed. As Dawes spoke about her reliance upon her faith, Maroney, who was interviewed alongside her, added a "yeah" in agreement and then an "amen."

A Beliefnet celebrity profile on Dawes notes that Jesus is her "foundation," and she is listed as a Christian speaker on a number of websites.

But Dawes is hardly the first — or only Olympian for that matter — to cite Philippians 4:13 as her motivator.

When asked in a recent interview to give her personal motto, U.S. gymnast Laurie Hernandez responded, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

And yet another gymnast, Jake Dalton, actually had the text of Philippians 4:13 tattooed on his left side just before heading to the 2012 Olympic games; he also has praying hands tattooed on his right side — symbols of his Christian faith.

"It was kind of my last little thing to remind myself to do everything that I could to be ready for that team and try to get on that team, and whatever happens it was God’s plan to happen, whether I made the team or not," he has said of the Philippians tattoo.

Gymnast Gabby Douglas has also invoked the verse in discussing efforts to muster the strength to push through Olympic challenges, telling Religion News Service in 2012 that she's been empowered by the scripture.

"The scriptures motivate me and I use them to help me overcome circumstances like practices and competitions," she said at the time. "If I’m having trouble with a skill: 'I can do all things in Christ that strengthens me.' Or sometimes I get a little nervous: 'Do not fear; always believe.'"

The Deseret News has reported in-depth in recent days on the major role that faith plays both at the Olympic games and in the personal lives of athletes.

From a Christian swimmer who overcame a head injury to an underdog wrestler who relied on God and beat the odds to make it to Rio — to the Muslim fencer who just became the first U.S. Olympian to wear a hijab during a competition — religion is on full display in Rio.

Email: bhallowell@deseretnews.com, Twitter: billyhallowell, Facebook: facebook.com/billyhallowell