John Stephen Akhwari – Inspirational Story
Have you ever heard about John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania? This is a great inspirational story – John Stephen Akhwari, a tale of courage and never give-up spirit. Sometimes the real Olympic story is not about the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat, but about the struggle in between.
This is an inspirational story about a Tanzanian Olympic hero who did not win any medal, he finished last, but competed with pride and courage, doing his best to reach the finish line no matter what. This man that is acclaimed worldwide nowadays is John Stephen Akhwari.
The inspirational story of John Stephen Akhwari goes back to 1968 Mexico City, during Summer Olympics. It was the first Olympic Games in Latin America. John Stephen Akhwari had not trained at such an altitude back in Tanzania.
It was one of the hottest Sunday afternoons of Mexico City when men’s marathon started at 3:00 pm local time. Out of 74 participants, 17 could not finish the race. In the early parts of the race, John Stephen Akhwari cramped up due to the high altitude of Mexico City. Somewhere around 19 kilometers mark, the Tanzanian was jockeying for position between some runners and he was hit. He had taken a horrible fall early in the race, whacked his head, damaged his knee, and endured a trampling before he could get back on his feet.. Despite his injuries, John Stephen Akhwari pressed on and continued despite being asked by the medical staff to quit.
The time, 7.00 P.M. The closing ceremonies had just been completed. The spectators and athletes, still warm from the euphoria of the celebration, were gathering their belongings to leave the stadium. The winner, Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia, finished the race an hour before. Down the boulevard came the whine of police sirens. From their vantage point, many in the stadium could see motorcycles with their flashing blue lights, encircling someone making his way toward the stadium. A lone runner having the leg bandaged and bloody, wearing the colours of Tanzania had just emerged through the stadium gate. It was John Stephen Akhwari, who was in obvious pain and hobbling towards the finish line. Limping, the Tanzanian found the last of his endurance to step up his pace and finish the race. RESPECT John Stephen Akhwari! This is how ended the the inspiring tale of John Stephen Akhwari!
Why did he continue to race if he was so badly injured? John Stephen Akhwari said this: “My country did not send me over 11,000 kilometers to start a race. They sent me over 11,000 kilometers to finish one.”
This was one my of my favorite inspirational stories, Akhwari being repeatedly asked to quit, but he did not give up. Even though his body was exhausted and in pain, his competitor passed by one by one, Akhwari’s spirit was unbreakable, being determined to end what he proposed. The Tanzanian never won any Olympic gold medal, but for me he became the greatest example of never-give-up spirit. He proved me that we should remember where the finish line is and even though we stumble and fall, we must have the power to raise up and continue, grit our teeth, push through the pain and step by step move closer to the finish line. Life is like a marathon, don’t give up and you can achieve something great, something that may inspire others! Thank you John Stephen Akhwari for this lesson!