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John Stephen Akhwari. 1968 Olympics

A Remarkable Story

Young Longleaf Pines in Kisatchie National Forest.

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago.

The next best time is today.

John Stephen Akhwari.
1968 Olympics

It’s a story worth retelling.

His name is  John Stephen Akhwari and he had the dubious honor to finish last in the Marathon at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

John Stephen, a Tanzanian runner, finished more than one hour after the winner had circled the track at Olympic Stadium.

Most of the crowd had left and the sun had set when John Stephen limped into the stadium for his last lap.  He was the 57th runner and the last to run the entire 26.2 mile race.

However, there’s more to his story than simply finishing last. During the race, John Stephen took a nasty fall, injuring both his knee and shoulder. In spite of this, he ran on.

When he reached the stadium, the sparse crowd, recognizing his determination to finish, cheered him on as he finished the race.

Afterwards, he told a reporter, “My country didn’t send me 5000 miles to start the race. They sent me 5000 miles to finish it.

Thanks, John Stephen, for a lesson in perseverance and commitment.

Finishing is such a wonderful word.

We find the same dedication in the Bible’s description of good King Hezekiah, the king of Judah:

“For he held fast to the Lord . . . “*

Holding fast to the Lord.

Not giving up.

Finishing the race.

May it be said of us all.

*II Kings 18:6

 

Curt’s Six Words to Live By.

I encourage you to have a personal list of the words that drive your life.

 

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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