Monday, August 11, 2008

The Story of the 1968 Olympic Last Place Marathoner

With all the olympic hype this month, I'd like to share a story of the 1968 Olympic last place marathon finisher.

In the year 1968 (I wasn't alive yet), as the Olympic awarding has just finished and everybody was about to pack their things and leave, the announcer began asking everyone to remain as the last runner, bloodied and limpingly entered the stadium. He was welcomed with a standing ovation. His name is John Stephen Akhwari from Tanzania. It was early on the race when John Stephen Akhwari had a terrible fall were he hit his head and broke his knee. Amidst all the circumstance, he never stopped running and limping to the finish line.

When asked why he never stopped. He said this famous line "My country did not sent me over 11,000KM to start the race, but to finish it".

This man was not the fastest nor the strongest runner, but many remembers his name until today because of his perseverance. Very few could even remember the first place finisher.

Here is a youtube link of his run: 1968 Last Place Marathoner

6 comments:

marga said...

that's a nice story bro. :) there is hope for little miss slowpoke marga hahaha

sfrunner said...

Taki, what a great blog entry! I saw a little of the marathon race and the headline was that Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia was going for his third consecutive gold medal. Unfortunately, he was injured prior to the games and DNF'd.

Akhwari and Lin Hao (the nine year old boy who survived the Szechuan earthquake and saved two of his classmates) for example are heroes forever!

Tech Spec said...

marga - marga your aint slow. More training and you'll eventually smoke other women triathletes. :)

wayne - Thanks wayne. Thanks also for the other info. So you did personally witness this event?

sfrunner said...

Taki, I should have been clear on the last entry. I watched it on television. The ABC announcer, the late Jim McKay mentioned this to a large audience.

The coverage of this was unlike the coverage that you see today.

I've been to one Olympics and that was a volunteer at the Men's Marathon in Los Angeles. I thought that was the greatest race I ever saw! An Olympic record was set by a masters' runner (Carlos Lopes of Portugal) and still exists today.

Tech Spec said...

Wayne - I envy you that you at least got to be at the Olympics in L.A. As for me, I could only enjoy watching it on T.V. Who are you vouching for this coming August 24 marathon? I'm hoping Paula Radcliffe would win this one.

sfrunner said...

Taki, my sentimental favorite is Paula. We saw what happened in Athens and how the British press treated her.

I was fortunate in Los Angeles. The organizer in the Men's Marathon was also the race director for the Bay To Breakers back in the early 1980s. I was asked and volunteered for the water station assignment at 25K.