Just 10 meters from the finish line of a cross-country race in Burlada, Navarre in Spain, the Kenyan lead runner Abel Mutai slowed down. It was possible that he thought the race still has one more lap to go or that he had already crossed the finish line. Whatever his reason might have been for slowing down, it was soon becoming obvious that other runners would soon catch up and steal his huge lead.
Enter Spanish athlete Iván Fernández Anaya. He knew that Abel had long been the race leader and that the latter had just made a huge mistake.
Instead of exploiting the Kenyan runner’s mistake and zipping past the guy to win the race, the Spanish athlete caught up with him and told him about the mistake using gestures since the other guy could not understand his language.
For the remaining part of the race, Iván guided Abel to the finish line and let the other guy cross first. He could have easily exploited the latter’s mistake – and no one would complain because his win was valid yet Iván knew that winning the race is not always about crossing the finish line first!
He was quoted saying this after the race, “But 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 it seems anything goes, a gesture of honesty goes down well.”
Iván added, “Unfortunately, very little has been said of the gesture. And it’s a shame. In my opinion, it would be nice to explain to children, so they do not think that sport is only what they see on TV: violent kicks in abundance, posh statements, fingers in the eyes of the enemy.”