Olympic Glory

George asks us for favourite moments in Olympic history.

I offer you John Stephen Akwhari.

Not long after the start of the marathon at the Mexico Olympics, Akhwari fell down and was badly injured, because he was not used to the climate of Central America. The other runners passed him one after another, and his chance of winning a medal became extremely slim. However, he didn\’t quit, and insisted on finishing the race.

When Akhwari limped into the stadium on bloody and bandaged legs an hour after the winner of the race had left, there were only a few spectators remaining in the stands. They were shocked to see Akhwari wincing with pain at every step toward the finish line, and they felt grateful to witness such a touching moment.

When asked why he didn\’t retire from the race, Akhwari\’s answer is calm and simple.

Film Director Bud Greenspan asked him, “Why did you keep going?” He said, “You don’t understand. My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start a race, they sent me to finish it."


Truly, a sportsman and a mensch.

Do they still make them like that or has the mould been broken?

4 thoughts on “Olympic Glory”

  1. How about Derek Redmond in 1992 in the semi-0finals of the 400m. His hamstring snapped about 200 metres from the line and he just collapsed as if pole-axed. His dad jumped over the fences, helped him to his feet and assisted him to limp across the line. Of course, the officials disqualified him but the crowd gave him a standing ovation. I would rather see this image of failure than any of some probably drug-assisted cheater winning a race in some amazing time.

  2. I will tell as similar story.

    It concerns one Bob Weaver, at the time a high school senior and undefeated cross-country runner (2-1/2 to 2-3/4 mi) competing for the district championship of SE PA.

    Bob lost one of his shoes right at the start of the race and to “even things up”–kicked off the other as well. He went on to win that race (with bloodied feet, of course). Runners from our area, though, can’t win the state chanmpionship, which is held at Penn State (c. 2000 ft). Those that actually try end up not finishing–that’s what happened to Bob.

    He went on to star at Syracuse as a miler, losing as a senior only one race–the Inquirer Games (here in Philly)–to a fellow from England who, that day, ran his own fastest: one Dr. Roger Bannister. Bob went on to serve as a fighter pilot in the USAF. His younger brother, Homer,
    has been my friend for nearly 60 years (and has been a champion miler and X-country runner in his own right–though also collapsing in the state championship in HS).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *