Eric Liddell

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Eric Liddell (16 January 1902 – 21 February 1945) was a famous Scottish runner and missionary, known as the "Flying Scotsman" due to his sporting prowess. He won an Olympic gold medal at the 1924 Paris Olympic games in the 400 metres. He was immortalised in the award winning film Chariots of Fire, which tells the story of the British Olympic team at the 1924 games. The film focused on Liddell's religious convictions, particularly his refusal to break the Christian Sabbath by running on a Sunday, though it would cost him a place in the 100 metres, his best event. He was also known for his rugby union games.


Liddell was born to Scottish parents who were living in Tianjin (天津), China, at the time. Eric's Chinese name was Li Airui (李愛銳). He was educated at Edinburgh University, graduating in 1924. The following year, 1925, he returned to China to work as a missionary; firstly in Tianjin where his parents had been then later in Shaochang (韶昌), in Yunnan Province of China's south western interior.

In 1932 he was ordained as a minister of religion. In 1935, he married a Canadian named Florence Mackenzie; together, they had three daughters, Patricia, Heather and Maureen. With the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War, he remained in China despite official advice form the British government to leave. However, his children and pregnant wife left for Canada. The year 1943 saw the Japanese capture the Chinese city of Shaochang; Eric was imprisoned in a Japanese prison camp in Wéifāng City (潍坊).

He died in this camp on 21 February 1945 of a brain tumour. His body was interred in a Mausoleum of Martyrs in Shíjiāzhuāng City (石家庄) in China.