Samuel’s parents and young sister, innocent bystanders during an uprising, are killed by South African police. Samuel is sent to live with his uncle, a tribal chief in the Bantu homeland, while his brother vows to join the African National Congress armed struggle and avenge his family’s deaths. In the homeland, Samuel discovers he can run faster than anyone and before long begins to train under his English-educated uncle. Years later, after the end of Apartheid, Samuel is selected as the token black South African athlete to run in the Olympics. President Nelson Mandela is there when he wins his gold medal, and Samuel dedicates it to ‘a very special man… I was running for the President. I was running for my country. This powerful and moving story portrays what it was like for blacks growing up in South Africa aunder Apartheid and the different ways in which they struggled to gain their freedom. For some, like Samuel’s brother, it was an armed struggle, but for Samuel it was the opportunity to prove he could run better than any white man.
Ricardo Romo never dreamed that running to catch the school bus would lead to a college education, and ultimately, to a long and respected career as a teacher, administrator, and university president. He grew up in San Antonio, Texas, the son of Mexican immigrants, and worked in his family’s small grocery store, where he learned to work hard and respect his family and neighbors. In school he learned that, as a Latino, he was expected to go to the technical high school rather than the one that prepared students for college, yet his teachers and coaches encouraged him to pursue his studies. They also fostered his natural athletic abilities as a runner. In high school, Ricardo set numerous records in track and cross country, including the country’s second fastest recorded mile at that time. While still a sophomore, he began to receive invitations from colleges and universities urging him to consider running for their schools. Ultimately, he went on to run for the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated with an undergraduate degree in history. While injuries ended Ricardo’s hopes of competing in the 1968 Olympics, his educational dreams were achieved when he obtained a master’s degree from California State University, Northridge and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles, both in history. Currently, he is the president of the University of Texas at San Antonio, and a time line detailing Dr. Romo’s accomplishments as an athlete and a scholar is included.