Religion | Health | Sports | Uplifting

American Olympians Credit Their Faith After "Potentially Deadly" Health Scare

The winter Olympics have already been a story of hope, perseverance, and making history.

It started with Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris overcoming a near-death experience to win a bronze medal just 11 months later. Then Mira Nagasu made American Olympic history when she became the first woman to land a triple axel at the Olympic games. And who can forget Redmond Gerard, the 17-year-old snowboarder who won a gold medal despite sleeping through his alarm.

International Figure Skating

But a story that is not being talked about is that of Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, the married figure skating duo who are crediting their faith for being in PyeongChang today. The pair have been skating together since 2012, and in April of 2014 they were engaged. It was a love story that could only be written about in fairy tales. Two figure skaters who started out as partners and ended up as lovers.

But not even two short years ago, Alexa was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal issue that was "potentially deadly," and the fairy tale romance almost took a turn for the worse. Though it hasn't been discussed what the exact issue was, Alexa has opened up about how her faith is what saved her.

“In April of 2016 I started feeling very sick at a competition, it was the last one of the year, and issues continued to develop all the way through August of 2016 when I was finally diagnosed and had immediate surgery in my abdomen,” Alexa told PEOPLE. “I ended up having three surgeries and we had to withdraw from all of our events for the first half of the year. My life, our life, changed drastically in that time period — life was on hold and we weren’t really sure what life would be for the two of us.”

Alexa revealed that she dropped to 80lbs after her surgery, but she wasn't about to give up on her Olympic dreams. She and Chris knew there was more in store for them, they just had to have faith.

“It’s the reason I was able to get back on the ice,” Alexa said, “because I stopped worrying and stopped trying to control life, because I couldn’t. In the moment, you know, I was so sick and didn’t really know where things were going to go for me, whether it was skating or life in general. So I finally just threw my hands up and said like, ‘You lead the way,’ and it’s my testimony and I stay true to it.”

NBC Olympics

Alexa and Chris competed in the team skating competition with the United States, where they helped bring the team a bronze medal. Even though it admittedly was not their best skate, Alexa said it didn't matter to them.

"[The Olympics are an opportunity to] glorify God, and my followers know that that’s my purpose and it makes me happy,” Alexa said. “I’m here living my dream, and if that’s the way that I have to go about it, I’ll keep doing it.”

It's so inspiring to see someone on an international stage proclaim their love for God. He can help us do anything, all we have to do is have faith.