John Stephen Akhwari, the Tanzanian marathon runner, has participated at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City where he become a Marathon Hero.
During the race he fell, badly cutting his knee and dislocating the joint. Rather than quitting, he continued running. He finished last among the 57 competitors who finished, while 74 begun the race.
In this moment: "It was almost 7pm in Mexico City, 1968. One hour earlier the winners of the 26 mile Olympic marathon had crossed the finish line. It had been a grueling hot day as the high altitude affected all the athletes. The sky was beginning to darken and most of the stadium was empty. As the last few spectators were preparing to leave, police sirens and flashing lights caught their attention. A lone runner, wearing the colours of Tanzania had just emerged through the stadium gate. Limping, with his leg bandaged he found the last of his endurance to step up his pace and finish the race. His name was John Stephen Akhwari."
When asked why he continued running, he said simply: "My country didn't send me to 5000 miles to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me 5000 miles to finish the race." The competition won him the title of "a King without crown." Akhwari competed for ten years after the 1968 Olympics.
He finished 5th in the marathon at the 1970 Commonweath Games.
Akhwari has lent his name to the John Stephen Akhwari Athletic Foundation, an organization which supports Tanzanian athletes training for the Olympic Games. He was invited to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. He later appeared in Beijing as a goodwill ambassador in preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
My country didn't send me to 5000 miles to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me 5000 miles to finish the race.