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News – Liddell story inspires the Chinese

September 2008 | by David Woollin

Liddell story inspires the Chinese

 

The launch of the Chinese version of Rev. John Keddie’s biography of Eric Liddell, Running the Race (Evangelical Press), is very soon to take place amidst considerable glitz in China. 

     Amongst the scheduled events are photo-calls with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Lord Sebastian Coe and British Olympic Association Chairman Colin Moynihan.

     The Weifang Foreign Affairs Department has invited Mr Keddie to visit the site of the internment camp where Eric Liddell was incarcerated during the Second War, along with its memorial to Liddell; the Tianjin school where Liddell taught; and the Min Yuan Stadium, whose design Liddell was involved with (based on Chelsea Football Club stadium!).

     BBC Sport are planning on filming a feature about Eric Liddell and Running the race, to coincide with the 400 metres final (Eric Liddell’s event).

     There has been media discussion on the question – was Liddell a Scottish or Chinese Olympic champion? Reuters reported: ‘John Keddie, who has written a new biography of the Scot, believes there might be a case for calling Liddell China’s first Olympic champion even though he ran for Britain when he won 400 yards gold at the Paris Olympics. “He was born in China, he died in China, he helped the Chinese people and he had a great love for China, it really was his frame of reference in his life”.’

     The Daily Telegraph reported: ‘Who knows how the Chariots of Fire story is likely to go down in communist China, but we are about to find out. Eric Liddell, or Li Airui as he was known in the Far East, was considered a godly, heroic figure in non-communist China, and now the modern-day Chinese authorities have agreed to let his story of Christian humanity and sporting excellence be told’.

David Woollin

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