It was on this Friday – 11th July 1924 – that Eric Liddell won the gold medal in 400 metres at the 1924 Paris Olympics. A devout Christian, he had refused to run in the Sunday heats of the 100 metres, his best event. The schedule had been published several months earlier, and his decision was made well before the Games. He had spent the intervening months training for the 400 metres. At this time the 400 metres was considered a middle-distance event in which runners raced round the first bend, coasted through the back leg and then raced to the finish. Eric had drawn the outside lane so could not see the other runners. As a result he raced the back length and drew well clear of the favoured Americans. He then had little option but to then treat the race as a complete sprint and continued to race round the final bend. He was challenged all the way down the home straight but held on to take victory in a time of 47.6 seconds.
It is said that when he went to the starting blocks an American Olympic Team masseur slipped a piece of paper into his hand with a quotation from 1 Samuel 2:30:
“Those who honor me I will honor.”
After the Olympics Eric made use of his athletic success with many statements linked to his beliefs. These are just a few I have found:
“In the dust of defeat as well as the laurels of victory there is a glory to be found if one has done his best.”
“God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure. ”
“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.”
“You will know as much of God, and only as much of God, as you are willing to put into practice.”