Greater Than Gold is an autobiography by David Boudia, with the assistance of Tim Ellsworth. It is the story of David’s pathway to success, tracing his lifetime of growth from a child gymnast to becoming the first U.S. male Olympic gold medalist in 10-meter platform diving since 1986. My 12-year old daughter and I both read this book, as I thought it would be a valuable story that illustrates the critical lessons that fame is fraught with various perils and that only the love of God can help us return to the path He intends for us to pursue.
Always a competitive person, David Boudia did gymnastics until the age of eleven, and became obsessed with making it to the Olympics after watching them for the first time at the age of seven. At eleven, he switched to diving, and excelled because of skills he’d acquired in gymnastics. Like many of us, he loved to be praised and he loved to win. He had to be the best, but he focused on his results, to the exclusion of the One who gave him the talents and gifts that would enable him to succeed. These qualities lived in his heart through his tumultuous high school and college years, when he lost focus and adopted a party lifestyle.
David’s freshman roommate and synchro partner, Thomas Finchum, was a good friend and “partner in crime,” but he also happened to be professed Christian. He partied with David freshman year, but come sophomore year, he had been transformed from within, and as David explains, “God had a purpose for him in my life that I couldn’t yet see” (p.68). In fact, there were a number of people in David’s life who would play critical roles in turning David Boudia’s life around and helping him head not only toward a gold medal, but also toward the infinitely higher satisfaction of a life spent walking with God. His Purdue diving coach Adam Soldati and his wife, Kimiko, “began sharing a message that changed my life,” says Boudia, “a message that gave me hope, freedom, and purpose. It was the gospel, the ‘good news’ about Jesus Christ and what he had done for me.” (p. 86)
In the end, David went on to win that medal he’d sought for so long, married a woman he loved and now has a beautiful daughter. The book was an easy, quick read and timely, with modern events that appealed both my daughter and me. I would recommend this book to most Christian parents of tweens and teens because Boudia’s story teaches an important truth: the world cannot give what only God can. Toward the end of the book, Boudia explains this well. “Acclaim from the world asks a lot in return. It can jade you and strip you of your desire for anything other than yourself. It can destroy you, as it almost did me, and it’s not worth the price unless God sees fit to give it to you in order to show you that he is better.” (175-176) Those are wise words for anyone – be it an adult like me or my 12-year old daughter who might one day aspire to some worldly acclaim.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”