Eric Liddell. Courtesy of Council for World Mission Archive

16 July 2012

Eric Liddell, the Olympic runner who was the subject of 1981 film Chariots of Fire, is being celebrated in a new exhibition at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London.

A unique collection of images and personal documents reveal Liddell's life after the Olympics, when he gave up athletics to become a missionary in China. The devout Christian was famous for refusing to run in the 100m qualifying heats for the 1924 Paris Olympics because they were held on a Sunday.

Drawing on documents found in the archive of the London Missionary Society, held by SOAS Library, the exhibition looks at Liddell's family background, his birth in China to Scottish missionary parents, his personal motivation for becoming a missionary, his work as a teacher at the Anglo-Chinese College in Tientsin and his eventual imprisonment and premature death in a Japanese internment camp at Weihsien in 1945.

The exhibition is being held as part of the Archive Awareness Campaign's celebratory events for the London 2012 Games.

Find out more about The Man Who Wouldn't Run on a Sunday on the SOAS website.

You can also discover more historical records relating to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in The National Archives' online exhibition.