On Dec. 2, 2012, Spanish athlete Ivan Fernandez Anaya impressed the world by giving up victory to do the right thing. According to El Pais, it happened as the 24-year-old raced a cross-country event in Burlada, Navarre.
In second place to Abel Mutai, the Kenyan athlete who won a bronze medal in the London Olympics, Anaya suddenly had a chance to surge ahead. According to El Pais, Mutai mistakenly thought the end of the race came about 10 meters sooner than it did, and stopped running.
Then, he “looked back and saw the people telling him to keep going,” Anaya told CNA. “But since he doesn’t speak Spanish he didn’t realize it.”
So Anaya slowed, guiding Mutai to the actual finish line.
And he didn’t think much of it, either. Anaya told El Pais:
“I didn’t deserve to win it. I did what I had to do. He was the rightful winner. He created a gap that I couldn’t have closed if he hadn’t made a mistake. As soon as I saw he was stopping, I knew I wasn’t going to pass him.”
“It was a very good gesture of honesty,” Fiz said. “A gesture of the kind that isn’t made any more. Or rather, of the kind that has never been made. A gesture that I myself wouldn’t have made. I certainly would have taken advantage of it to win.”
“The gesture has made him a better person but not a better athlete,” Fiz added. “He has wasted an occasion. Winning always makes you more of an athlete. You have to go out to win.”
While Fernández Anaya couldn’t win first place, he is proud of what he did.
“I have earned more of a name having done what I did than if I had won,” he told El Pais. “And that is very important, because today, with the way things are in all circles, in soccer, in society, in politics, where it seems anything goes, a gesture of honesty goes down well.”
His actions may not have won him the match, or the approval of his coach, but they did get him a few new fans.
Kudos to Fernández Anaya for exemplifying true sportsmanship!
If you were in Fernández Anaya’s shoes, would you have done the same?
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