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Eric Henry Liddell

1902 ~ 1945

Liddell was born in Tientsin (Tianjin), China, of missionary parents serving with the London Missionary Society (LMS). His schooling was at the LMS School for Sons of Missionaries at Blackheath and Eltham College in England, and at the University of Edinburgh (B.Sc., 1924). He excelled in rugby and track and in 1924 was chosen to represent Britain in the 100-meter dash at the Olympic games in Paris. The 1981 Academy Award-winning film Chariots of Fire powerfully depicts his decision not to enter the 100-meter race because the preliminary heats were scheduled on Sunday. Instead, he competed in the 400-meter race, for which he was not as well prepared. The victory of "The Flying Scotsman" in Olympic-record time has ranked him for all time among the most memorable of Olympic heroes.

In 1925 Liddell returned to China with the LMS and taught at the Anglo-Chinese Christian College in Tientsin. In 1934 he married Florence Mackenzie, daughter of Canadian missionaries. With Japanese hostilities increasing, Liddell arranged for his wife and young family to return to Canada, planning to follow when he could no longer continue missionary work. World War II intervened, and along with about 1 ,500 others, he was interned in 1943 in Weihsien (Wiefang) Prison Camp, Shantung (Shandong) Province, where he was admired and loved by the scores of imprisoned children from the Chefoo School of the China Inland Mission who were separated from their parents. As teacher, friend, and guide, he modeled a godly life that brought inspiration and spiritual strength. He died from a brain tumor six months before the war ended.

About the Author

By David J. Michell

Director, Overseas Missionary Fellowship, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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