Eric Liddell was born on January 16th, 1902. Learn more about Eric and 15 other Christian heroes in The Torchlighters Ultimate Activity Book and DVD set, available at VOMBooks.com. The book includes 144 pages of stories, devotionals, coloring pages (see the image to the right), extreme dot-to-dots, crafts, and activities related to the 16 heroes on the accompanying Torchlighters DVDs.
Eric Liddell didn’t look like a champion when he ran, and people mocked his strange running style. But Eric was super fast. In fact, he was the fastest runner in all of Scotland. He had become a national hero, and his country was proud of him. They waited eagerly to see him compete against the world’s greatest athletes at the 1924 Olympics in Paris, where Eric was expected to win the gold medal for Great Britain in his event. Then the whole world would know that Scotland had the best 100-meter sprinter anywhere.
Eric did his best to win races, but he had a bigger goal for his life. Following his parents’ example and God’s call, he planned to be a missionary in China. Eric’s faith was even more important to him than the Olympics.
Then as the time for the Olympics approached, Eric decided not to run the 100-meter sprint — his best event! He had learned that the trials for the race were scheduled for a Sunday. Eric had always set aside the Lord’s Day for rest and worship, as the Bible teaches (Exodus 20:8-11). He refused to change his habits for the Olympics.
The people of Scotland were furious! Eric had crushed their hopes for a win for their country. It’s hard to imagine today how much importance they placed on Eric’s winning a gold medal. It seemed to Scotland that Eric was sacrificing loyalty to his country, fame, victory, and glory for a reason they didn’t understand. He was called a disgrace, a traitor, and a “letdown to his own people.”
Eric ran in the 200-meter and 400-meter races in the Olympics instead of his usual race. They had never been his best events. But he surprised the world with a gold medal and a new world record in the 400-meter event, and a bronze medal in the 200. Again he was a national hero.
Because of his fame, people listened to Eric. He used speaking opportunities to witness about his faith, and his fame continued to spread. He sacrificed his comfortable life in Scotland to serve with his wife as a missionary in China for 20 years. Then, as World War II reached them, Eric sacrificed the opportunity to leave China, staying instead to help the wounded and to share his faith. He died in China in 1945.