Praying on the Field + 4 More Times Latter-day Saint Olympians Shared Their Faith on the World Stage

Winning, Losing, and Loving

Peter Vidmar still holds the record as the highest-scoring U.S. male gymnast in Olympic history and is one of only three athletes inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame twice. As captain of the U.S. men’s gymnastics team, Vidmar led the team to its first-ever gold medal in 1984. That same year, he also captured the gold by scoring a perfect 10 for his pommel horse routine and won silver in the all-around men’s competition, making him the first American to medal in that category.

No doubt, Vidmar knows something about winning. But he also knows something of faith, loss, struggle, and family.

While Vidmar did not have a chance to publicly share his faith during the Olympic Games, he did have many missionary moments. “Certainly as I would travel around, competing as a member of the U.S. team, I had a chance to room with a lot of great guys and great gymnasts, and you have conversations that over time lead to discussions on faith and discussions on scripture and things like that,” Vidmar says.

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But Vidmar’s most significant conversion story came before his Olympic career. While attending college at the University of California, Los Angeles, Vidmar met a beautiful young gymnast named Donna Harris. “She wasn’t a member,” he recalls. “She was on the gymnastics team at UCLA, and I had a chance to share in her conversion process.”

As Vidmar and Harris’s relationship deepened and the two talked more about their faith and hopes, Harris became interested in the Church and finally asked Vidmar to baptize her.

“I baptized her and we were married in the temple about a year after her conversion,” Vidmar remembers. “That’s what made becoming a gymnast all that really mattered through my sport I met my eternal companion.”

Through all he’s experienced, Vidmar has realized, “Life is about facing challenges, and sometimes we win and sometimes we don’t. I lost a lot more competitions than I won.” But despite the glory, despite the wins and losses, Vidmar told the Deseret News that “my greatest joy in life comes from seeing my children find joy.”

Late in 2015, Peter Vidmar resigned as chairman of the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors—a position he had held since 2008—to prepare to serve as mission president of the Australia Melbourne Mission.

Image from deseretnews.com
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