John Stephen Akhwari was a Tanzanian marathon runner. He popularly represented Tanzania in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City where he finished the marathon despite falling and severely injuring his knee. In last place, having no chance of winning the race, he crossed the finish line more than 1 hour after the first place finisher. When asked why he didn’t forfeit the race and tend to his ailing knee, Mr. Akhwari responded: “my country did not send me to Mexico city to start the race. They sent me to finish.”
After Mexico, Mr. Akhwari continued to passionately represent Tanzania in international competition, finishing 5th in the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland. He retired from active competition in 1976, and started to train young Tanzanian runners; he was a team manager for Tanzania in the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. He retired from active engagement in sports in 1993. In 2008 he was a goodwill ambassador and torch bearer at the 2008 Olympics Games in Beijing. He now resides in his tranquil hometown of Mbulu, Manyara.