I began canoeing when I was 13 years old. I started late in the sport because I was stubborn. There was a river with a strong current — a very strong current — and my parents prohibited me from getting close to the river. I had already had a history of almost drowning in pools, three or four times, so my parents were scared of me being too close to the river. But I would see my friends rowing in the middle of the current and I decided to try it too. I asked them to teach me how, and that’s how it all started.
The first championship I participated in was in Minas Gerais, and I won. From this point on, things started to progress naturally for me. I never imagined I would be in an Olympic final, but suddenly that’s where I found myself. But first I had to overcome this fear I had — to face the challenge of the river.
In my professional career, I have won 130 national titles, 25 South American titles, 18 Pan American titles, 11 Pan American medals, 18 medals in South American games, and I have competed in 4 Olympic Games.
To be honest, the life of a professional athlete is very crazy. Every 3-4 years you move to a new city; it was very lonely. My relationship with God has helped me overcome a lot of problems — being alone, moving to other cities, making new friends, facing the unknown, and having to restart my life. Through it all, God allowed me to be very calm. My relationship with Him was fundamental for me to survive canoeing for so long.
My career was successful because of the strength God gave me to keep working hard. I went through many hard situations and illnesses, one of which the doctors said I wouldn’t be able to row after. But I held tightly to God. It was Him who helped me get back to where I was — to have the titles I had after losing everything.
If you surrender your life to God, giving up your own way, you won’t always understand what He decides is right for your life, but later you’ll understand that it’s because He has prepared something so much greater for you. This is what He has done with my athletic career. Sometimes I didn’t understand what was happening and I found myself asking God, “Why?” But years later I would experience a much greater victory — a greater satisfaction. God gave me twice as much as I thought He had taken away from me. It just wasn’t the moment for me to receive it yet.
Give your life to God; He is in charge. God knows what He is doing, and if now is not the moment, He will give you what is best for you at the right time. Sometimes we need to have a little patience, which can be the hardest thing to do — to wait for and hope in God and His timing.
—Sabastian Cuattrin, Brazilian Olympic canoer