Spanish athlete loses to Olympic medallist on purpose
Spanish cross-country runner Iván Fernández Anaya is being hailed a hero for guiding Olympic bronze medallist Abel Mutai over the finish line at a recent race in Burlada, in northern Spain's Navarre province, after the confused frontrunner pulled up thinking he had crossed to victory.
Anaya, who was several metres behind Mutai, watched as his rival ran under an arch with balloons that was meant for the awards ceremony, mistake it for the finish line and slow down as he waved to the crowd.
Spectators shouted for him to keep running, but Mutai, who doesn't speak Spanish, thought they were cheering for him. Anaya had the perfect chance to surge past the confused Kenyan but instead took the high road.
"I shouted from the back that he had 10 metres more. He didn't understand. I patted his back, pushed him and yelling at him, he looked more confused," said the 24-year-old Spaniard.
Anaya finished the race a step behind Mutai, and later told El Pais newspaper: "I didn't deserve to win. Mutai 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 was going to pass him."
Anaya's gentlemanly act of sportsmanship may have won him plenty of praise from the public, but his own coach Martin Fiz thinks he's a loser.
"The gesture has made him a better person, not a better athlete," Fiz said. "He has wasted an occasion. Winning always makes you more of an athlete. You have to go out to win. I certainly would have taken advantage of it."
Anaya told Catholic News Agency that he and Mutai "talked a little bit, but we didn't understand each other much... He thanked me for allowing him to win."
"This race, there was hardly anything at stake apart from being able to say you had beaten an Olympic medallist," Anaya added. "But even if they told me that winning would have earned me a place in the Spanish team for the European championships, I would not have done it."
Source: El Pais; Catholic News Agency; Agencies
Published: 1st March 2013