True Olympic Spirit

February 19, 2014 at 1:48 pm Leave a comment

Every Olympic Games there are moments that make you realise that sport is not always about winning. Moments that would make Baron Pierre de Coubertin proud, as he envisaged the games as being far more than a stage for the best, but a place where barriers were pushed aside and friendships forged.

It was so refreshing to wake up and read about Swiss cross-country skier Dario Cologna who crossed the finish line first and secured the gold medal and then stayed behind and waited 28 minutes to congratulate last-place finisher Roberto Carcelen of Peru at the finish line.

It had been a tough event for both skiers, and maybe that is why Cologna did what he did. Like many of the cross-country competitors, he collapsed after crossing the finish line having recorded a time of 39-minutes over a gruelling 15 km course.

The 43-year-old Carcelen was Peru’s first Winter Olympian and had only been skiing since 2005. He was also competing with broken ribs as the result of a training accident just two weeks before the Olympics.

That was probably enough to remember his first Olympic games, but as he came to the end 28 minutes and 11 seconds after the second last finisher, he was roared home by a standing ovation from the fans who had waited for him. He grabbed a Peruvian flag from the crowd prior to crossing the finish line where he was first hugged by Dachhiri Sherpa of Nepal who finished 86th, one place ahead of him and then Cologna appeared, still holding his skis, to greet both competitors with a handshake.

A wonderful gesture and one that should be a lesson to us all, not only is it important to be a good loser but also a gracious victor.

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