Running is a sport that takes athleticism and power. There is a need for consistent self-reliance and a stamina that is almost unworldly. The sport is recreational for some while for others it is a passion and career. There is no better place for athletes in running than can be seen in the Olympics. Several great athletes have become world known and famous because of their Olympic performances and the actions that they took while performing on the largest running stage. The following discusses two of the most famous runners to have won gold at the Olympic Games. From two different countries and with two different stories, the following two men have become synonymous with running and staples of inspiration in the running world. Read their stories and see if you are inspired by their incredible journeys to the top of the medal podium.
A Hero Abroad Who Was Hated At Home
The story of runner Jesse Owens is one of the most aspiring stories to come from Olympic runners. His running career begins early, but he really burst onto the scenes at the contentious and historic 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. With Hitler and the Nazis gaining in power throughout Germany, these games were intended to be a chance for Germany to showcase their superior talents and the overall German strength. Hitler became disgusted and utterly dumbfounded by the fact that America would include anyone but white individuals of Arian descent in their athletic team. And then, he had to face them on the field of competition.
The U.S. won an impressive eleven gold medals, the majority of which were won by black athletes. It was Jesse Owens, however, that was the most impressive and iconic athlete of the games. Jesse Owens won four gold medals, three in individual race competitions and one in a team relay. His performance frustrated Hitler to the point that rumours flew that he had stormed from the stadium. This alone gained him status as one of the most famous runners and Olympic gold medallists of all times. Furthering this was the fact that when Jesse Owens returned home to America, he received a chilly welcome. He had been the hero of America overseas and came home to segregation and disrespect. He simultaneously became known as the American hero and the representation of American racial hypocrisy.
Running With Religion
In 1924, Paris hosted the summer Olympics and a Christian runner made his name on the running scene. Eric Liddell was born to missionary parents who worked to spread the word of Christ in China. The Scottish gentleman grew up learning a love of God and a love of athletics as well. Though rugby was his sport of choice, it was running that gained Eric Liddell his most notable international athletic accomplishment. While at the 1924 games in Paris, the runner was put on centre stage for his country. So much was he admired that Scottish bands played outside of the stadium hours before his race. During his gold medal winning race of the four-hundred meters, Eric Liddell proved that he could do anything in the sport, including beat out the highly favoured Americans for a victory in gold while breaking world records.
It is not just this stellar performance, however, that the athlete was known for. It was for his stance for what he believed. Eric Liddell, as a devout Christian, believed that the Sabbath was to be observed in completion, even if the Olympics were occurring. For this reason, he sat out races that were important both to him personally and to his team out of respect for the religion he so thoroughly believed. His stance was seen around the world, with debate over his choice but widespread respect for his belief adherence. He has become known in many circles as the missionary runner, and his reputation has lived on.
The two athletes above are clearly an inspiration to all. If you want to exceed your own expectations, pick up some running clothing and give athletics a try. You may just surprise yourself.