What Do You Want To Be Remembered For?
Lessons from John Stephen Akhwari’s Experience
I remain inspired by the story of John Stephen Akhwari, the Tanzanian former marathon runner who represented his country in the marathon at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico.
During the 42km race, at around the halfway stage, while struggling to stay ahead, John fell and severely injured his shoulder and knee. After receiving palliative first-aid treatment, he returned to the track. Stumbling painfully forward, limping and occasionally stopping to rest, John did not give up. He wanted to reach his goal – to get to the finish line where the broken tape lay across the track.
My country did not send me 9,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 9,000 miles to finish the race.
The winner had already finished the exhausting run in 2:20:26. Just over one hour later when the stadium was almost empty, and when the medal ceremony was underway, John finished as 3:25:27 appeared on the stadium clock.
The night had begun to approach. Then, in the gathering gloom, people at the medal ceremony heard cheers from the small crowd still at the stadium. The media crew hurriedly returned when they heard John Stephen Akhwari had run the race to the end!
The media crew asked John why he didn’t give up even when he knew the race had ended, and the winners were atop the podium receiving their medals.
It’s high time we reflected on the legacy we want to leave behind.
John replied, “My country did not send me 9,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 9,000 miles to finish the race”.
Today, many have probably forgotten about the winner of that 1968 marathon, but we remember John Stephen Akwhari – for his determination and perseverance. We remember him as that person that came last but was nevertheless celebrated!
Yes, the winners were home and dry, but the so-called “loser” achieved his goal – and ended the race. Interestingly, the press crew had left the victors to focus on the real winner – John Stephen Akwhari.
There are many lessons to be learned from this story. I don’t know what your current situation or circumstances are. I don’t know how you plan to turn your lemon to a lemonade; but more importantly, what do you want your family, your church, your workplace and the local community to remember about you?
When your name is mentioned, what comes to people’s minds? It’s high time we reflected on the legacy we want to leave behind.