On June 3, Harbor Presbyterian Church (Chula Vista, Calif.) member Jacob Wukie, 26, learned that he would be heading to London in July to represent the U.S. on its Olympic archery team. Later, byFaith contributor Zoe S. Erler chatted with Wukie about his journey to Olympic recognition and how his faith influences his sport.
How did you pick archery in the first place? And what is it about the sport that you love the most?
I grew up doing a lot of hunting and had a bow that I shot a little bit. I started going to some competitions, and I enjoyed them a lot, even though I wasn’t any good at them. I continued competing and just worked my way up. I’ve always enjoyed shooting of any kind, and that is what I like about archery: shooting, hitting the target, and learning how to perfect my shot.
You were very close to qualifying for the 2008 Games. What were your feelings when you didn’t make the team?
In Beijing, I was the alternate for the U.S. Olympic team, and to be honest I was excited to make that position. After the first trials when the field was cut to 16 archers, I came in 17th. One of the top 16 pulled out, which let me into the second trials, where I worked up to seventh place; and in the third trials on my last arrow, I jumped from sixth to fourth to be the alternate. Because of everything the Lord had brought me through and taught me on my way to that position, I knew He was in control, I was where I needed to be, and I was very blessed to make that position.
What was it like when you found out you qualified for the 2012 Games?
It was a very tight race in the trials for the 2012 team. There are so many people shooting at a very high level right now. I actually went into the last day of shooting behind by a lot of points and knew it was very unlikely to make the team at that point. I also knew that I didn’t need to perform and I didn’t need to make the team in order for God to be glorified, so throughout that day my prayer was that the Lord would be glorified through me and that people would be able to see Jesus through me and my actions.
I ended up shooting very well, and it was extremely close between me and one of my teammates. We waited about 25 minutes for the judges to confirm scores and eventually announce the team. It wasn’t until the award ceremony that I found out for sure that I had made the team. It was very exciting, and I felt so blessed to have made it. Afterward my fiancée said she felt like she watched a miracle happen, and that is exactly what happened.
Obviously, your relationship with Christ is very important to you. Can you go into that a little more?
My faith is the driving force behind everything I do. My No. 1 goal is to glorify Christ, who gave up His life for me so I could be saved and spend eternity in heaven. I train to be the best that I can, and I compete wanting to win. At the same time, I compete knowing that the Lord is in control and has a plan for my life. I know that He will use successes and failures to carry out that plan.
Photos by Teresa Laconi