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John Stephen Akhwari, Olympics, 1968

Mexico City, 1968 – Out of the cold darkness he came.  John Stephen Akhwari, of Tanzania, entered at the far end of the stadium, pain hobbling his every step, his leg bloody and bandaged.  The winner of the Olympic marathon had been declared over an hour earlier.  Only a few spectators remained.  But the lone runner pressed on.  As he crossed the finish line, the small crowd roared out its appreciation.  Afterward, a reporter asked the runner why he had not retired from the race, since he had no chance of winning.  He seemed confused by the question.  Finally, he answered: “My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race.  They sent me to finish.”