Tuula Rands West Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Chapter 6 - Imagination
I came across the story of John Stephen Akhwari. I'd like to share his story with you.
John Stephen Akhwari was a marathon runner. He represented
Tanzania in the marathon in Mexico in 1968.
He didn't win a medal. In fact, he came nowhere near. But, in defeat
and in pain, he came to represent something much more profound
and enduring than many sportsmen achieve in illustrious careers.
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
dislocated that joint, plus his shoulder hit hard against the pavement.
Most observers, seeing his injuries, assumed he would pull out and go
to hospital. Instead, he received medical attention and returned to the track
to continue his race.
Akhwari crossed the line in last place. He was cheered home by a few
thousand spectators who had remained in the stadium after the sun went down.
By the time he reached the stadium, he was limping and the bandage around
his leg was flapping in the breeze.
When interviewed later he was asked why he continued running, and his
response has gone down in sporting history. “My country did not send me
5,000 miles to start the race,” he said. “They sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.”
We need to ask ourselves, are we here to start our race or are we here to finish our race?