Rising speed skating star Trevor Marsicano triumphed over depression, bullying and a life-threatening injury to gain a place at the 2014 Sochi Olympics
The first American to win four medals at a World Single Distance Championship in 2009, Trevor Marsicano says the sport that gave him a silver medal from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games team pursuit race, was, at first, simply therapy to combat depression.
He started skating as a toddler and, at 24 years of age, holds great promise in this year's Olympic Games in Russia. Despite this, he says he does not let his accomplishments or disappointments determine his worth.
"Whether we achieve great success or fall flat on our face, God will always treat us with the same love," he explains.
Severely bullied during his high school years, Trevor ended up on the maximum dose of medication for depression but says it was his faith in God and skating that got him through the tough times.
"I was on that [medication] for four years, and during that time I realised I was going to need greater hope than people were giving me," he says.
At age 13, Trevor remembers picking up a pamphlet at the church about what it meant to accept Christ into his life and, after reading it, says he realised Jesus Christ was that source of "hope and love that would never fade".
"I then said the [example] prayer on the back of the pamphlet. After that moment, 'living for Christ' had a new meaning to me," he recalls.
Determined to stay positive, Trevor wanted to try something different and was inspired to skate by '98 Olympic short track coach Pat Maxwell, who once spoke to his class at school.
"Skating served as therapy at first," Trevor explains. "It helped me focus my negative energy and feelings into positive ones.
There is “something more to life than just living it”"I trained for a couple of years and realised I could be very good at this sport – maybe even great." Entering competitions, Trevor was on his way up before sustaining a life-threatening injury in a short track race in 2004.
He remembers being able to see his femur exposed when a competitor slipped and one of his skates sliced Trevor's leg to the bone, causing him to lose half his body's blood.
Despite the setback, Trevor got back on the ice and went on to win bronze overall at the World Junior Championships in 2007, helping him to rise in the world rankings.
Some people told him that he would not succeed but in 2008 he took a daring chance and moved away from his home in New York State to live and train harder in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
"At the beginning of the year it looked like they were right," Trevor says. "However, through perseverance, a strong will to fight, and my faith in God, I worked my way through the ranks to become a world champion."
During the highs and lows, Trevor says he gains encouragement to trust God in every circumstance from Ecclesiastes chapter 7, verse 4, which says, "When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other."
"I will have to rely on God to pull me through and chase this dream that I and many others have worked hard for," he says.
Withstanding the pressure to join in the hard-partying behaviour of other athletes around him, Trevor realises there is "something more to life than just living it" and says he has always believed God holds a bigger purpose for Him.
"I am competing for more than just a result or a medal. I am competing for God," he says.
"In the world of athletics, you will find you are liked and rewarded based off of your results. But, whether you perform great or poorly, God will never treat you any different. He will always unconditionally love you and support you."
When he is not training for upcoming skating competitions, Trevor speaks at different schools about bullying and he hopes to one day become a youth pastor.
"Ever since school I have always wanted to help kids get through that tough time in their life like so many people helped me," he says.
For now he says his goal is to become the best speed-skater and to find satisfaction in being the best person he can be to his friends, family and God.
"If I have learned something from last year it is to not chase medals," he said back in 2011 after his first Olympics Games.
"It is to chase personal satisfaction with whatever result I get because when all the years pass and the media finds the next new superstar; that is all that I will have."