It was arguably the greatest last place finish in Olympic Games history.

Tanzanian marathon runner John Stephen Akhwari was never going to won a medal at Mexico City in 1968. But his journey to the finish line is probably better remembered than that of the winner, Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia. Less than halfway into the 42km race, Akhwari tangled with another runner and took a horrific fall, smashing his knee and shoulder on the pavement. With his knee reportedly dislocated and heavily bleeding, his race should have ended there. But instead it became one of the great tales of sporting courage, bravely, he continued running. As his rivals crossed the line one by one, Akhwari remained out on the course, in pain, but determined to see out the race, he did just that. By the time he completed the race – at about 7pm Mexico time – he was more than an hour behind any of the other 57 competitors to have entered the Olympic stadium. But the few thousand people who stayed behind to see him complete the race gave him an almighty cheer. After the race, when asked why he had continued running, Akhwari had a simple answer: “My country did not send me 5000 miles just to start the race. They sent me to finish the race.” Eighteen other competitors pulled out of the 1968 Olympic marathon during the event, Akhwari’s inspirational effort earned him an invitation to the Sydney 2000 Games. SOURCE: news.com.au

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