A few days earlier, he had competed in the 200 metres race and won the bronze medal. Scotland and the entire UK young Eric firmly to their hearts.
Years later, after a long career as a missionary to China, he died in a Japanese POW camp, just five months before liberation. He died on 21 February 1945, five months before liberation and was greatly mourned in Scotland as well as in parts of China.
Before his death, he worked to teach science to the children in the camp and to care for the elderly.
Because he was born in China – the son of missionaries – and died there, some of China Olympic literature lists Liddell as China's first Olympic champion.
In the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Games, Chinese authorities revealed that Liddell had refused an opportunity to leave the internment camp, choosing instead gave his place to a pregnant woman as part of a Japanese prisoner exchange with Britain.
Public voting for the first inductees to the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 revealed that Eric Liddell was the most popular athlete Scotland has produced.
Yet his story may have been lost to most of the rest of us had it not been told afresh in the movie Chariots of Fire, now digitised for a new cinema audience and running (no pun intended) as a London stage show.
It was not the movie that made Eric Liddell, however. It was the courage of his human spirit, the supreme focus on something bigger and better than himself.
In the glamour of Olympic extravaganzas, let's not forget that this is what the modern Games were intended to commemorate and elevate.
Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Games, famously said that, 'The important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part.' He would have been proud of Eric Liddell, as he would of the Paralympic young swimmer from China.
In this austerity era, ethics professors, religious leaders, heads of royal commissions and parliamentary inquiries and even leading politicians are calling for a redefinition of community values. They urge that we pursue the common good over individual profit.
The success of this Olympics should be measured by more than the money they make or the splash in the world's media. In spite of their links with profit motives and the hubristic side of nationalism, the Games still have the power to show us how challenges can be met and far-off dreams made a little more real.
Let's see if we can't look past the sometimes awe-inspiring bells and whistles and certainly the Olympic 'machine', to focus on the very human stories of remarkable men and women.