Friday, January 18, 2013

Is winning all that counts?

Ivan Fernandez Anaya is a 24 years old Basque runner. He is considered an athlete with a big future (champion of Spain of 5,000 meters in promise category two years ago)

On December 2, 2012, Fernandez was competing in a cross-country race in Burlada, Navarre, Spain. He was running second, some distance behind race leader Abel Mutai - bronze medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the London Olympics. As they entered the finishing straight, the Kenyan runner - certain winner of the race - mistakenly pull up about 100 meters before the finish, thinking he had already crossed the line.

Fernández quickly caught up with him, but instead of exploiting Mutai's mistake to speed past and claim an unlikely victory, he stayed behind the Kenyan, guided him up to the line and let him cross first.

"I ran close to him 4 km. He was 5 m ahead of me. At 250 m he increased speed and I tried to keep up with him. [..] Mutai saw an arch made of balloons. It was something for the award ceremony. He didn't realize, he thought it was the finish line. He started to greet the public, to send them kisses. I shouted from the back that he still had 100 m to go. He didn't understand. From the sidelines they were shouting that I should take advantage of the situation because the boy already opened the champagne. How would you feel about that ?  I ran up to him and touched him but he looked confused. So I pushed him, I actually yelled at him. I am not sure what he understood, but he was the first to pass the finish line. He had won."
After the race, Fernandez added :

"Even if they had told me that winning would have earned me a place in the Spanish team for the European championships, I wouldn't have done it either. I also think that I have earned more of a name having done what I did than if I had won. And that is very important, because today, with the way things are in all circles, in soccer, in society, in politics, where anything seems to go, a gesture of honesty goes down well."

Unfortunately, very little was said of his gesture. 

This is a great example to meditate upon... Do you practice your art to win, or to build up character and a better society ?

You can read Ivan Fernandez' Blog in Spanish.

I encourage you to please share this story with your students or kids.

No comments: