A large number of athletics enthusiasts the world over know that Jamaica is home to several of the greatest sprinters and runners who have graced the global stage. Tovea Jenkins is one of those runners. She and Jordan Gray, fellow pro-athlete and one of Heaven to the Yeah’s Grace Ambassadors, chopped it up on Instagram Live this past Wednesday.
Tovea, who was a finalist in the 400 meters at the 2021 Tokyo games, started running track in high school and saw it as a means to potentially acquire a scholarship and pursue a college education. Her hopes came to fruition when she received a scholarship to attend Johnson C. Smith University, a historically black university in North Carolina. In 2017, while attending JCSU, Tovea became an NCAA Division II outdoor champion on the school’s 4 x 400 meters relay team.
Tovea went on to share some of the struggles she faced when she began her transition from the world of collegiate track and field to that of post-collegiate track and field. The change presented several challenges. Moving from one training camp to another was more than uncomfortable, and she found herself running times that seemed discouragingly slow. She wanted to quit. After talking with a few coaches who advised her to give it another shot, this time with full faith and effort, she decided to press on. The following year she made her first Olympic team. According to Tovea, it was faith that took her there.
The faith journey began not too long ago when a coach prayed for her while she endured intense training in hopes of making the 2018 team for the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham. Tovea made the team and knew that God had made it happen for her so she decided to give her life to Him and be baptized.
She also shared that a friend explained to her during her struggle to go post-collegiate that God gives us gifts so that we can serve others, as opposed to using the gift to serve ourselves or serving the gift. In Tovea’s case, she believes that her athletic ability provides an avenue for her to help those around her. She is currently working on starting a foundation in her hometown to serve her community.
The way Tovea sees it, she wouldn’t have made it this far apart from the grace of God. When asked what grace really means to her she put it simply: “God’s love is shown to me despite my sins.” As for key advice from someone who almost walked away from the track before making an Olympic team, that advice is simple: “Don’t give up. Just try one more time.”
Heaven to the Yeah (HTTY) is an online retail start-up with a mission to encourage people to live with heaven in view and spread the hope of heaven globally. HTTY sponsors children and missionaries on four continents through universally recognized non-profit organizations such as Compassion International and Food for the Hungry.