We love reading stories about Eric Liddell in the Archive. We think that the two newspaper reports included below offer a fascinating insight into his wonderful triumph at the 1924 Olympics and his life shortly afterwards.
Liddell had been entered to run in the 100m (his best event), but the devout Christian decided not to race in the 100m as the heats took place on a Sunday. As the timetable for the Games had been published several months in advance, Liddell had made his decision long before he arrived in Paris. In preparation, he had been training for the 400m, although his times were not considered strong enough to win any medals.
Inspired by the pipe band that had been playing outside the stadium before he ran, Liddell not only won the gold medal, but he broke the Olympic and world records with a time of 47.6 seconds.
Liddell’s amazing feat, along with the story of Harold Abrahams, who won the gold in the 100m in 1924, was the inspiration for the film, ‘Chariots of Fire’.
Tragically, however, as with a previous 400m Scottish gold medallist, Wyndham Hallswelle, Eric Liddell died at a young age. In February 1945, aged 43, Liddell died of a brain tumour in a Japanese internment camp in China.
On a happier note, Liddell’s great-granddaughter lives in Canada and is a runner. So the Olympian genes of ‘the Flying Scotsman’ live on!
There are scores of interesting stories about Eric Liddell in the Archive – just do a search on his name to find them.
Western Daily Press – Saturday 12 July 1924
Image © Northcliffe Media Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.
Motherwell Times – Friday 12 December 1924
Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.