Eric Liddell story an inspiration to the Chinese
Added: (Fri Aug 08 2008)
Pressbox (Press Release) -
China itinerary now available – Prime minister Gordon Brown, Lord Sebastian Coe, Colin Moynihan, Simon Clegg, Weifang, Tianjin.
PRESS RELEASE – Liddell story an inspiration to the Chinese
The Olympics in Beijing officially begin today and Scottish author, (ex) athlete and minister, John Keddie is fulfilling a lifelong dream flying out to China early next week to follow in the steps of his hero, Eric Liddell.
The launch of the Chinese version of the acclaimed biography of Eric Liddell entitled ‘Running the Race’ is part of his visit. http://www.runningtheraceinchina.blogspot.com/
Amongst the scheduled events:
- Photo-call with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown who has kindly agreed to meet with us in conjunction with the British Olympic Association. Depending on itinerary Lord Sebastian Coe and BOA Chairman Colin Moynihan may also join us.
- Simon Clegg, Chief Executive of the British Olympic Association has given us the opportunity to have copies of ‘Running the race’ available to the GB athletes in Beijing.
- The Weifang Foreign Affairs Department have graciously invited us to visit with them and guide us to the site of the internment camp and memorial to Eric Liddell.
- Visit to Tianjin – A visit to the school where Eric taught, and a visit to Min Yuan Stadium; apparently Eric Liddell had some hand in the design (based on Chelsea Football Club Stadium).
- BBC Sport will be filming a feature with John Keddie about Eric Liddell and Running the race, to be aired to coincide with 400 metres final (Eric Liddell’s event)
Thousands of copies have already been purchased by the official state bookstore in Beijing.
Rev. John Keddie would be happy to participate in interviews. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reuters – But was Liddell a Scottish or Chinese Olympic champion?
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 meters 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," he told Reuters by telephone.
"These things endear him to the Chinese even though in principle there is a hesitancy about making a hero of someone who was a Christian missionary."
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.
The Rev Keddie, who was a consultant to writer Colin Welland on the movie Chariots Of Fire – and had his name included as a character on the cast list – had wanted for years to write a biography of Eric Liddell.
"I felt that of all the biographers I had some unique qualifications – I was a Scot, I was an athlete and a rugby-player, I am a historian of athletics and I am also a Christian. And I think all these things together give an aspect to it that's a wee bit different.
Keddie is coming to Beijing for the Olympics but he thinks Liddell would reflect his own discomfort at the modern world of sport and would have been "horrified" at the recent doping scandals in track and field.
"The position of sport has changed so much, it has become almost a new religion, a form of idolatry," he said.