In 1902 Eric Liddell was born in China to Scottish missionary parents. He was educated in England, was a rugby standout, and earned the nickname “the Flying Scotsman.” As a young evangelist he drew large crowds because of his athletic fame.
When he competed in the 1924 Paris Olympics, Liddell made a stir when he refused to compete in his best track and field event, the men's 100 meter race, because the competition was on a Sunday. Eric Liddell won a gold medal in the 200 metre and a bronze in the 100 meter.
After racing in the Olympics, Eric returned to China where he was a long-term missionary with the China Inland Mission. In 1932 he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister. He married and had three children. In World War II, British citizens were counseled to leave China, so Liddell’s family returned to England. Eric, however, chose to remain and go to a rural mission to help provide medical care.
During Japanese occupation of China, Eric was imprisoned in an internment camp where he taught and supervised sports activities. Eric Liddell died there of a brain tumor shortly after his forty-third birthday on February 21, 1945.