Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone Talks Her New Book ‘Far Beyond Gold: Running From Fear To Faith'

In her memoir, the Olympic gold medalist explores her journey and all the obstacles she had to overcome to become one of the greatest track and field athletes ever.

Track and field superstar Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone will go down as one of the sport's greatest athletes. At just 24 years old, she has rewritten the record books with amazing performances and has blazed a trail to becoming the most decorated hurdler ever.

At the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, she won gold medals in the 400 m hurdles and the 400 x 400 m relay. She also set the world record of 50.68 seconds at the 2022 World Championships in the 400m hurdles. Over 13 months, she set four world records and became the first woman to break the 52-second (June 2021) and 51-second (July 2022) barriers in the 400 m hurdle.

In addition to her prowess on the track, McLaughlin-Levrone recently released her memoir “Far Beyond Gold: Running from Fear to Faith.” The book details her battles with fear and perfection to experiencing freedom by conquering life’s obstacles with power and determination. caught up with McLaughlin-Levrone, and spoke about the process of writing the memoir, the upcoming Summer Olympics in Paris, and how her faith has changed her life. Coming from a family of runners, would you say you were destined to run track?

McLaughlin-Levrone: I was destined to try it at least. Both of my parents ran, both of my older siblings ran and my younger brother as well. We love track in our household. My parents watched all the meets even if we didn't run. They just love the sport but they weren't super pushy when it came to doing it. They've always been open to letting us try different things and that's honestly what I stuck with it and what I loved. When did you want it to connect with you that you had this talent not only the run but to compete in the hurdles?

McLaughlin-Levrone: It was in high school. It can be very daunting as a freshman when you’re competing with sophomores, juniors, and seniors who’ve been doing this for a while. I was introduced to the hurdles in middle school but this was my first time training for track. My first race was an indoor 300 and I won. I think that's kind of where I was shocked, like, “Oh, my goodness, like, I think I can do this." Then I transitioned to the hurdles that year, and I think my first race ever was like 61 seconds. Then, from there, my time dropped to 59,58, and  57. In my freshman year, I really started to understand that this was something I could do for a living. What inspired you to want to write your first memoir?

McLaughlin-Levrone: Great question. When the opportunity came to us, I didn't know how much in my 22 years at the time that I had to share. But I think wanted to share my testimony with the world maybe one reader to seek the Lord and to hopefully find some freedom from any fear or anxiety that they're going through. I think that was the intention of the book. How long did it take you to write the book, and how was that process?

McLaughlin-Levrone: We got started about two years ago, and we wanted it to come out near the Olympics in 2020, as a great lead-in story. But I needed help writing it, so I had to help a ghostwriter to help me get my thoughts down on paper because I didn’t know how to write a book. It was very helpful to put everything in order, so it made sense and would read well. During the process, I learned a lot about myself. We would have sit-down interviews, and he would have questions for me about certain topics, certain things, and we would just talk through it. Sometimes it was almost like a therapy session going through my whole life and just being able to think through all those moments again. After penning a personal memoir, could you see yourself writing more books in the future?

McLaughlin-Levrone:  I would definitely write something else but I don't know that it would be of this magnitude. I love to write poetry. That's something I love to do. My husband's always telling me that I should write like an athletic cookbook. Maybe something like that might happen down the line but I don't know about writing another memoir. Can you pinpoint a moment when you first noticed when you were outspoken about your faith?

McLaughlin-Levrone: I would say it was during COVID. During that season of being stuck in the house, alone and just reflecting on all the areas of my life where I might have fallen short. I felt that I was coming to the end of myself. The Lord was very kind, to point me in the right direction to reveal the gospel to me. So that kind of was the turning point for me. Everything from that point on kind of just trended in that direction. I think the boldness just comes from the freedom that God has given me and the spirit being able to empower me to do it. I don't think it's me naturally. I'm not naturally a very vocal, talkative, evangelistic person, but I think the Spirit is who works in us to do those kinds of things. How do you balance humility as a Christian with being a competitive athlete who trains to win?

McLaughlin-Levrone: That's a wonderful question. I was struggling with how I was supposed to have this meek and gentle spirit and at the same time, be a competitor. But the Bible talks about how runners should run to win the prize. The boxer doesn't box endlessly to beat the air. There's intentionality behind it and that's of Christ. So I think that's really what humility is. I was not able to save myself. I'm not giving myself this prize. A scripture says, “Whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God. " So running for me is an opportunity to glorify God. That's the humble part of it. How excited are you about the Paris Olympics this summer and how has your recovery been?

McLaughlin-Levrone: I'm very excited. I’m healthy and doing much better, which is wonderful. The Olympics is an amazing opportunity and I’m excited to possibly be able to compete. I have to qualify first. I think it's going to be a wonderful Olympics. I know Paris is going to do a wonderful job hosting, and just hearing some of the plans that they have for the open ceremonies. I think it's going to be excellent. What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

McLaughlin-Levrone: Fear is something that affects all of us. I think it's the enemy's way of attacking us by putting us in a place of fear, which is the opposite of faith. I think freedom comes with faith in Christ. It's not something we can free ourselves from. It doesn't matter what we do, how old we are, how successful or unsuccessful we've been. It's a reality that hits everybody in this world. Being able to share that there is freedom from that in Christ is my aim and my mission. There are still times when fear tries to creep in, but to combat that, the word is the best tool we can use. That's our sword. That's our shield. I want to just encourage others to look to the Lord to be their refuge.                                                       

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