[caption id=”attachment_906” align=”aligncenter” width=”348”] King’s Christian Collegiate graduate Tera Van Beilen and her mom, Sharon, are shown at the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials in Montreal last month. Tera qualified to compete in two breaststroke races at the Summer Olympics in London.[/caption]
Sharon Van Beilen’s voice wavers describing the realization of daughter Tera’s Olympic dream.
“It’s very emotional. All the love and prayer — just to see how happy she was to turn around after the 100 and look above the clock and realize that she was going to the Olympics was just incredible,” Sharon says, recalling the first of two Canadian swim trial races in which Tera qualified for this summer’s Olympic Games in London.
King’s Christian Collegiate is rejoicing in the 2011 graduate’s recent achievement, which was announced at chapel and in a special good-news edition of the Oakville school’s Herald newsletter.
Tera will compete in the 100- and 200-metre breaststroke at the Olympics after a stand-out performance at last month’s trials in Montreal, where she also celebrated her 19th birthday. To earn a spot in the 200m, the University of British Columbia student surpassed both the current world record holder and world bronze medallist and posted the second-fastest time in the world this year.
Sharon, who is King’s administrative assistant and rental co-ordinator, says the school community has offered her family many congratulatory messages. It’s a continuation of the support that Tera received during her years at King’s Christian Collegiate.
Sharon says teachers and staff worked with Tera to accommodate her hectic competitive swim schedule without compromising her education, and prayed for her.
“Each one of them has been so excited for her and they’ve been following her swims throughout her career,” Sharon says. “They’ve helped her to keep her dream alive and have been a great support.”
Tera, whose swimming talent first became apparent at age nine during a summer Bible camp, has been anchored through ups and downs by her faith.
Sharon says God has remained central in her daughter’s life, helping her to maintain a strong sense of character and passion for life.
“She’s definitely stayed grounded, she knows who she is as a believer in Christ, she’s kept a healthy perspective on sport, and she knows that she’s valuable whether she swims or not,” Sharon says.
Tera’s Olympic dream is “a blessing” that reflects her all of her hard work, focus and dedication but so, too, is the fact that she’s learned to handle failure, her mom says.
Tera enjoys Christian music and turns to it before competitions. Sharon shares a current favourite, Restless by Audrey Assad, with these particular words of inspiration:
“In between our frailty and everything You are
You are the keeper of my heart”
“And I’m restless
’Til I rest in You.
(Oh God I wanna rest in You)”
“She says she listens to it and it just totally, totally inspires her,” Sharon says.
“It is such a beautiful song and the words are so powerful.”
In addition to the music, Tera has been known to pray with others before races. It’s an opportunity to share her faith and give God the glory.
“When you’re given this recognition and this gift you think wow, what an opportunity to share your faith,” Sharon says. “I just pray that that continues and she stays close to God and keeps a healthy perspective on sport — in her own Tera way, give God the glory.”
Tera is scheduled to visit her former elementary school, John Knox Christian School, and King’s Christian Collegiate on May 7 and 8 respectively. Sharon expects she’ll share her story and faith journey, looking at her “perspective of who she is as a Christian through it all.”