The Runner Wearing Number 67

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Here We Go! English Course 3 (2021) pg. 129-130

It was the fifth day of the Tokyo Olympics of 1964. The men's 10,000-meter run was the highlight of the day. About seventy thousand people were in the National Stadium.
At 4:05 p.m., the spectators went quiet. Their eyes were focused on the thirty-eight runners at the starting line. Then, the starting pistol sounded, and the race began.
It is one of the longest and toughest races in sports. For the race, the runners had to run 25 times around the 400-meter track. In this particular race, after ten laps or so, some runners had to give up and drop out. Then, in the last 80 meters, three runners dashed forward. In the end, an American runner called Billy Mills crossed the finishing line first. The audience were excited.
When the last runner crossed the line, everyone thought the race was over. However, that runner didn't stop. He just continued, all alone. Some people laughed and shouted, "Hey, he's a lap behind!" But he kept on running after crossing the finishing line again. "He's still running. Is he two laps behind?" The spectators were puzzled. "Who's that runner?" they wondered. They looked at the program.

"Number 67 is from Ceylon."
"His name is Karunananda."
As Karunananda continued to run, everyone's eyes began to focus on him. Then, suddenly, he started to speed up. It was his last lap — actually, he was three laps behind.
Now nobody was laughing. Instead, words of encouragement were heard.
"Keep going, Ceylon!"
"Hang in there, Karunananda!"
The spectators now understood what was happening. He just wanted to run to the end. Soon, everyone was cheering him on. Some were watching with tears in their eyes. When at last Karunananda crossed the finishing line, he got a huge cheer from the audience.
After the race, Karunananda explained his side of the story. "I had a bad cold this week, but I was chosen to run for my country. So my only goal was to run the whole race. That's what I did, and I'm happy with that." And then he added, "I have a little daughter back in my country. When she grows up, I will tell her: 'Your father didn't win that race, but he never gave up!'"
Karunananda became a hero and showed the true spirit of the Olympics: the most important thing is not to win but to take part.


The following is an unofficial translation.




See also