The Eric Liddell Award honours one male and one female Olympian who display outstanding character at home, in their community and on the field of competition. The award is given in memory of Eric Liddell, winner of the gold and bronze medals for Great Britain at the 1924 Paris Olympics. Liddell is best known for the portrayal of his Olympic experience in the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire.
Beyond his athletic successes, Liddell is known for his consistent character and strong Christian faith. Following the 1924 Olympics, he chose to return to his birthplace in China as a missionary, rather than train for further competition. By 1941, life in China had become so dangerous that Liddell sent his wife and daughters back to Great Britain. Two years later, he was interned in a Japanese POW camp, where he died in 1945, just four months before the end of World War II. After the war ended, stories of Liddell’s selflessness surfaced, revealing that he had started a school and organized sporting events for children in the camp.
David Michell, who was interned with Liddell while a young boy, shared his impressions of him in his book A Boy’s War: “Most of all, Eric taught by the example of his life. His spirit was characterized by integrity. There was no dichotomy between what he said and who he was.”
“I’m so proud that under the severe pressures of camp life, he remained faithful to all his principles. I like to think that he always walked in the light,” reflects Liddell’s daughter Heather Ingham.