TIME 100 Photos

Sir Patrick Stewart: The Photo That Influenced Me Most

To celebrate the launch of TIME’s new multimedia project – 100 Photographs: The Most Influential Images of All Time – we asked leaders in a number of fields, from technology to the arts to business, to share the single photograph that most influenced their lives. Purchase the 100 Photographs book now.

My photo is Ann Packer winning the 800 meters gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. Packer was the slowest qualifier for the 800 meters final, and with 200 meters to go she was sixth and looked to have no chance. However just before the bend she moved to the outside and running wider than all the others, passed runner after runner to be second at the start of the final straight. She flew past the French woman and seemed to be still accelerating as she crossed the finish line. But her race wasn’t done because she kept running, right into the arms of her husband, the athlete Robbie Brightwell.

Even as I write this, over 50 years later, my eyes fill with tears. Her win and the manner of it has been an inspiration to me all my life.

Sir Patrick Stewart is an acclaimed television, film and theater actor.

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