Youth Today

 The  Jaclyn  Halko  Story




Read the exciting story  of  a  young  woman in her twenties who won World Cup & World Championship Gold in 2012,  but more importantly,  with God's power helped to change her world.    

 Here  She  Is                

Jaclyn  Rowing 

"Hi,  I'm  Jaclyn  Halko."    

The  following  is  an  interview  by  Pastor  Dana  Struve  with  Jaclyn  Halko,  who  achieved  the  highest  prize  in  sports,  winning  gold  in  the  World  Cup & World  Championship  in  2012  on  the  Polish  National  Team.   You  will  be  inspired  by  her  athletic  ability  but  also  by  her  faith  in  Jesus  Christ.  You  too  can  achieve  the  highest  prize  for  your  faith  in  Jesus  Christ. 

Tell me about some of the circumstances which led  to the start of your journey with God?

"When I was five years old, my family had stopped attending church.  For the next ten years of my life, I was not really interested in God.  However, in high school, at age 15, I began to wonder more about God and if He really is who He says He is.  So I decided to check out the youth group at Uxbridge Baptist Church.  After spending a bit of time with the youth, I decided to give my life to Christ.  I could not deny His unfailing love for me.  A verse of Scripture that was very meaningful to me at that time of my life was Isaiah 46:4  'I will be your God throughout your lifetime -- until your hair is white with age.  I made you and I will care for you.  I will carry you along and save you.' "

As a teenager, what were some of the spiritual challenges that you faced?  And how did you find victory in the face of those challenges?

"Some of the spiritual challenges that I faced as a teenagaer usually included anything that involved peer pressure.  My identity and sexuality were things I struggled with after becoming a Christian.  Who I am in Christ was a lot different than who I saw myself as, before knowing God.  I knew that God always wants the best for me, so I picked up the Bible and read it from cover to cover to find the answers.  Not only did it help me to get through high school, it also brought me closer in my relationship with God.

     Also, drugs and alcohol became something I had to decide for or against.  Again, I went to the Bible and found some wisdom from I Corinthians that helped me with most of the issues I faced in high school.  'You say, I am allowed to do anything -- but not everything is good for you.  You say, I am allowed to do anything, but not everything is beneficial.'  Having Christian friends and talking to someone about my struggles helped me a lot.  My friends often would offer to pray for me and that really helped me to overcome some things in my life."

When did you first become interested in your sport of skulling?  Second question, what did you have to do to progress to the level that you are at now, a world champion?

    I first became interested in skulling when I watched the 2004 Athens Olympics on T.V. with my Polish grandfather.  I thought the sport looked so graceful and I really got excited to see the Polish men win gold in the lightweight double event.

     For me, to get to the level of ability I am at now, I had to sacrifice a lot of time and energy and couple that with a lot of discipline.  Having the right attitude, seeing my progress, and a lot of prayer fueled my decision to reach for the top.

JaclynHalko       Rowing  World  Championships - Plovdiv, Bulgaria;  Aug. 15 - 19, 2012       

Exhaustion  After Win : From Left : Magdalena Kemnitz,  Agnieszka Renc, Jaclyn Halko, Weronika Deresz.      Gold Medal Performance of 6:36.17;  2nd Place: Denmark 6:37.82;   3rd : Italy 6:39.13;   4th: U.S.A. 6:45.26  

     Some of the disciplines when training with the Polish team included training 2 - 3 times a day, sometimes as long as 2 1/2 hours of cardio in the winter months.  As well as cardio, we were lifting weights and doing regular stretching and core strengthening exercises.  I also race in the lightweight category so keeping my weight at the right level was also part of my job as a professional athlete.

     Did you find it hard to share your faith with your team members?

     I found in Poland it was a little more difficult to share my faith with my team members than in Canada but that is a cultural thing.  The topic of faith tends to be  very personal so it took some time getting to know the athletes.  A lot of trust and respect had to be earned before we opened up that topic.

     Tell me a little bit about the excitement of the weeks before the race where you won World Cup Gold and the World Championships.

     Racing is always nerve-racking and exciting!  It's great to race on the world stage because you get to see where all those hours of hard winter training takes you through the spring and into the summer racing season.  We always reduce the amount of volume leading up to a major competition so the extra energy makes for some very energetic and exciting days.  Also, the competitions usually take place in other countries so that is all part of the excitement!  God blessed me with the talent of rowing and its exciting to be competing for Him!  Philippians 4:13  "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength."

     Do you plan to continue on the Polish National Team and compete at Worlds this year and the Olympics in 2016?

     I have 'retired' from the Polish National Team and am currently training with the Canadian National Team in London, Ontario at the National Training Center.  If I get selected for the team, I plan to go to the World Championships this year.  I'm working toward the 2016 Olympics in Rio, however, that is 3.5 years away and anything could happen.

Jaclyn Halko  Trish Mara World University Championships Aug13-15 2010 bronze

FISU  World  University  Championships,  Szeged, Hungary,  Aug. 13 - 15, 2010

Trish Mara & Jaclyn Halko (on right), Representing University of Western Ontario Win Bronze


     What led you to become involved with Athletes in Action?

     When my brother was playing football in University, he got involved in AIA on campus and told me about it.  When I started my 3rd year of university, I decided to get involved with rowing and thought it would be worthwhile to check out AIA at my campus (University of Western Ontario).  I got involved with AIA because I knew that faith is more important than sport and I wanted to make sure I was taking steps to keep that part of my life in check -- why not share it with like-minded students.

     Share some of the challenges and thrills of working with Athletes in Action.

     Working with Athletes in Action is always really fun.  You generally find people who are rowdy and love adventure.  I would say it is really thrilling for me to have conversations with people who understand the sacrifice and heart of an athlete.  Especially when you can integrate faith into sport.  It helps give meaning to what you are doing rather than letting sport define who you are.


Jaclyn with AIA

Jaclyn on left with some of the girls at the Polish Basketball Camp


     I remember working on a basketball camp with high school aged girls in Poland.  One girl in particular was so worried all the time about her performance.  When I shared with her  the peace that comes from knowing God has a plan for her life, you could see the burden immediately lift off her shoulders.  She became hungry for more of God and gave her life to Christ at the end of the camp.  This is just one of the many thrills of working with AIA.  (All the girls came to know Christ)

     What do you hope the future will hold for you: first as a follower of Christ; second with Athletes in Action;  third as a member of the Canadian National Team?

     I hope that in the future, I will always keep God number one in whatever I'm doing.  With AIA, I hope that I can pass on the hope that I've received in Christ to other athletes who are searching for answers to their questions about God, life and sport.  Finally, as a member of the Canadian National  Team, my hope is for success and to be a leading example to my teammates not only as an athlete but as a person in all aspects of life.  I train hard day in and day out  and hope that who I am on and off the playing field reflects the heart and character of Jesus.


Jaclyn  - gold

Receiving Their Gold Medals - World Championships - Plovdiv Bulgaria, Aug. 2012

From Left : Magdalena Kemnitz, Agnieszka Renc, Jaclyn Halko, Weronika Deresz

     Is there a particular verse of Scripture or truth regarding the Christian life that stands out for you, perhaps as a goal or a plan of action to build the rest of your life on?

    I Timothy 4:8  "Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come."

     I never want rowing to take the place of God in my life.  Although it may happen at times, I get right back to making God number one because I know that true joy comes not from victory or accomplishments but with a relationship with God.  He is our source of joy in life and nothing else.

     What one thing would you say to Christian teens to encourage them to make their lives count for God?

     Whether through sport or whatever path God leads you down, make it count for God because when you do, He blesses you and others around you immensely with things you could not even imagine.  In my case it took me to a foreign country and involved winning a world championship!   Who knows what God has in store for you?  Take the risk and just ask:  Jeremiah 33:3  "Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about."