The Greatest Olympian Of All Time – John Steven Akhwari

The voiceover is more than a little sonorous and mastery of the human spirit etc. And yet:

1968 Olympic marathon
While competing in the marathon in Mexico City, Akhwari cramped up due to the high altitude of the city. He had not trained at such an altitude back in his country. At the 19 kilometer point during the 42 km race, there was jockeying for position between some runners and he was hit. He fell badly wounding his knee and dislocating that joint plus his shoulder hit hard against the pavement. He however continued running, finishing last among the 57 competitors who completed the race (75 had started). The winner of the marathon, Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia, finished in 2:20:26. Akhwari finished in 3:25:27, when there were only a few thousand people left in the stadium, and the sun had set. A television crew was sent out from the medal ceremony when word was received that there was one more runner about to finish.

As he finally crossed the finish line a cheer came from the small crowd. When interviewed later and asked why he continued running, he said, “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.”

23 km on a knee you’ve just dislocated? Respect.

No fucker’s going to beat that this year. Or, likely, any other.

10 thoughts on “The Greatest Olympian Of All Time – John Steven Akhwari”

  1. In the Tour de France this year, Geraint Thomas fell near the start of stage 3 and dislocated his shoulder (as well as removing a fair amount of skin, cuts and bruises etc). The medics popped it back after a few minutes and he got back on his bike, caught up to the peloton and finished (90 miles later) in the bunch, over a course that’s the equivalent of a double marathon on foot (and not perfectly level either). Just another day at the office for G.

  2. I’ve dislocated a shoulder. Nasty. And yet – I would have been able to cycle after it. OK not competetively but then I can’t do that anyway. Dislocate a knee and run? No way.

  3. Come on Tim, some modern athletes have overcome waycism, sexism, the class system and feeling a bit miserable before even bravely stopping filming their latest million pound endorsement advert so they could decide to pull out of the event.

    How brave!

  4. Such things happen regularly in cycling. I’m trying to remember the name of the guy who finished the Giro D’Italia with a broken collarbone.
    But there’s no doubt running on a bust knee is hardcore.

  5. The magnificent Stuart Pearce suffered a broken leg after colliding with Watford’s Micah Hyde while playing for West Ham in 1999. Not wanting to come off, Pearce began running off the injury, which was impossible. To keep the injury from getting worse, Pearce kept his boot on to keep his foot in place.

  6. I watched Phil Vickery break his wrist playing for Gloucester. Rather than leave the pitch, he packed down for the next scrum, just holding the broken wrist behind his back (luckily it was the side that is used to bind to the opposite pack). I think he managed to contest a couple of scrums before he was persuaded to come off.

Leave a Reply

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