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In 2004, U.K. Olympian Tasha Danvers-Smith sacrificed her spot at the Summer Olympics in Athens so she could bring her then-unborn baby to term.

Four years later, her little boy inspired her all the way to the podium in the women’s 400-metre hurdle event at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

After discovering she was pregnant in 2004, Danvers-Smith made a joint decision with her husband and coach, Darrell, to put her baby’s life ahead of her dream of competing in the summer games in Athens.

At the time some in the track and field community urged Tasha, touted as one of the U.K.’s best chances for a gold medal, to abort her baby, and the media chastised her when she did not.

Danvers-Smith was, however, given tremendous support by those who believe in the intrinsic right to life of all human beings.

One such organization, which was greatly moved by Tasha’s bravery, was the Life Issues Institute. Executive Director Bradley Mattes presented the athlete and then-soon-to-be mother with the Hero At Heart award, which is given to those individuals who “demonstrate outstanding courage or compassion on behalf of innocent human life.”

Four years down the road, after balancing her schedule between the newest member of her family and training for the 400-metre hurdle, Tasha ran a personal best in Beijing, to win the bronze medal.

Matte says Tasha has scored a “tremendous victory” for women and has proved her critics wrong.

“Tasha has demonstrated to women all over the world that they don’t have to sacrifice their unborn children to fulfill their dreams. Tasha’s three-year-old son, Jaden, was an inspiration to her Olympic goals. The very thing critics said would destroy and derail her hopes was central to helping her fulfill them,” said Mattes.

“Tasha stood strong for life, even when it meant temporarily giving up her dreams for an Olympic medal. Now she has become a member of the exclusive club of Olympic champions, and she has her beautiful son, Jaden. I couldn’t be happier for her,” he concluded.

[25Aug08, Tim Waggoner, London,]