The Inspiration Of John Ahkwari – Finish The Race!

Are you tired? Frustrated? Maybe you are about to quit?
I understand. I’ve been there… most of us have. Life can really knock us down at times. But, I encourage you to hang in there.
Paul said in Galations 6:9, “Let us not lose heart in doing good for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Paul was encouraging us to hang in there.
As I think about not quitting… perseverance… I am reminded of one of my favorite stories that happened in the 1968 Olympics. It’s the story of the courageous finish of John Stephen Akhwari.
Akhwari was a world class distance runner in the 1960s and early 70s. Akhwari was competing in the Olympic Marathon in Mexico City. Approximately nineteen kilometers into the forty-two kilometer race, there was jostling between some runners and Akhwari fell badly. He wounded his knee and his shoulder also hit the pavement hard against the pavement. In fact, his leg was bleeding and his knee was apparently dislocated. Medical staff urged him to withdraw.
However Akhwari continued running. Actually, it was a mix of walking and a slow limping run at points. He finished last among the fifty-seven competitors who completed the race. The winner of the marathon had finished in 2:20:26. Akhwari finished well over an hour later, in 3:25:27.
By then, the sun had set, and there were only a few thousand people left in the stadium. But of course, as he finally crossed the finish line a cheer came from the small crowd. A television crew was diverted from a medal ceremony and caught this courageous man’s agonizing finish. You can see it here on Youtube.
And here’s the bit we all need to hear. When interviewed later and asked why he ignored the advice to pull out and continued running, Akhwari said,
“My country did not send me ten-thousand miles just to start the race; they sent me to finish the race.”
As a matter of fact, of the seventy-five who started the 1968 Olympic marathon, eighteen others did pull out. And really, no one even remembers the name of the gold medal winner that year.
But we remember and honour Akhwari because he finished the race in the most difficult circumstances.
Some have suggested John Stephen Akhwari has the honour of the greatest last place finish ever.
Are you tired and frustrated? Maybe about to quit? John Ahkwari provides encouragement for us. Don’t quit. Finish the race.

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