"It's love that makes the world go round" - W.S. Gilbert
Very recently, in October 2014, renowned Hollywood producer Gary Kurtz (of original Star Wars / The Empire Strikes Back fame) announced undertaking of a new movie project about the decades which Eric Liddell spent in China subsequent to the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. The new movie project by Kurtz will attempt to capture the extraordinary and inspiring story of Liddell when he returned to China as a missionary helping the many who were poor while educating the local youth through sport.
To date, there have been books, commentaries and related written about Liddell, known as “The Flying Scotsman”. In addition, the motion picture “Chariots of Fire”, centering on events leading up to and including the 1924 Paris Olympic Games, won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1981 at the 54th Academy Awards in Hollywood.
In order to better understand and appreciate Liddell’s achievements, it is important to recognize his athletic skills. He specialized in the sprints, namely, 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters as well as the corresponding relay races (4 x 100 meters and 4 x 400 meters). Liddell was, in all sense, a true amateur and did not have a traditional coach nor employed a professional coach for any of his training or competition.
Moreover, Liddell’s training was also “non-traditional” in that it included a lot of
“off-the-track” speed and interval drills and wind sprints on the beach, grass,
hills, etc. as compared to solely the traditional methods on the track and under
the supervision of an established coach. The above is in context to his
contemporaries, in both Europe and the United States, which benefited from formal
training programs that were well established with latest state-of-the-art facilities
and coaches while complemented by advanced methods and techniques.
Liddell’s running form, appearing quite unorthodox, was often sarcastically commented on by competitors and other fellow athletes in that he often held his head back as he sprinted in the final stretch as well as his hands reaching, grasping and grabbing “in-space” as he ran. Some even termed Liddell’s running style as “running like a wild animal” or the “ugliest runner”. Liddell’s running form was best supported by his teammate, Harold Abrahams, winner of the 100 meters gold medal at the 1924 Paris Olympics; "People may shout their heads off about his appalling style. Well, let them. He gets there."
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind about Liddell’s athletic accomplishments. From his initial race in 1921 in Edinburgh to his first national debut in Scotland in 1923 to his final competition in 1925, Liddell blazed through the various track events competing in 100 meters/yards, 200 meters/yards, 400 meters/yards and corresponding relays.
The legacy of Eric Liddell continues as he embodied the Olympic ideals by the way he lived his day-to-day life. He often greeted and shook hands with competitors and came alongside those who were shunned because they were from different walks-of-life. He selflessly led and taught youth in schools and was both a coach and referee. He worked with the very poorest and rescued victims in war-torn China during World War II. Liddell truly symbolized the words “selfless love, service and sacrifice” and set a remarkable example for multiple generations to follow.