Liddell was born 16 January 1902, Tientsin, China and died 21 February 1945, Weihsien, China.
A gifted athlete, he excelled at rugby as well as running. He first gained national recognition by winning the 100- and 200-metre runs at the Amateur Athletic Association championships in 1923.
At the 1924 Olympics, Liddel dropped out of the 100-metre run—his strongest event—because the final was scheduled for a Sunday. Instead, he trained for the 200- and 400-metre runs. At the Games, he finished third in the 200-metre run and turned in a remarkable performance to win the 400 metres. Starting in the outside lane, Liddell sprinted out of the blocks and set such a blistering pace that two racers stumbled trying to keep up. He won the race in a record time of 47.6 sec.
The experiences of Liddell and his teammate Harold Abrahams were portrayed in the film Chariots of Fire (1981)
A year after the Olympic Games, Liddell returned to China to do missionary work with his father. Eric died of a brain tumour while interred in a Japanese camp during World War II.
In preparation for the role, Charleson read the bible from cover to cover. The clip below, from the film, was scripted by Charleson himself.