In 1968, the Olympics were held in Mexico City, Mexico. One of the competitors in the marathon was a runner from Tanzania by the name of John Akhwari. However, in one of the earlier qualifying races, he fractured his right fibula. It ended his dream of winning an Olympic medal. But he was determined to compete. So he entered the marathon in spite of his injury.
The runners all took off together on their 26-mile race and the day became night as the race neared its end, over two hours later. Another hour passed, and every competitor had completed the race… except John Akhwari. Spectators in the stadium waited patiently for every runner to complete the marathon.
Finally John Akhwari entered the stadium. His injured leg was wrapped with a bandage, and he struggled as he limped his way around the track. The crowd began to cheer, and with each step the noise grew louder and louder. With each step he gained strength from the cheers. His limp became a walk, his walk became a jog, and his jog became a run. As he approached the finish line, even though he came in dead last, the crowd was on its feet cheering wildly.
In a later interview, a reporter said to him, “It must have been extremely painful and difficult for you to run 26 miles with a broken leg. Why didn’t you stop?”
John Ackwari answered: “My country did not send me to start the race. They sent me to finish it.”