At a time when everybody is focused on a famous, drug-pushing, bike-riding bully’s mental illness symptoms, Spanish runner Iván Fernández Anaya has saved sports.
At a cross-country race in Burlada, Navarre last month, Anaya was in second place behind Olympic medalist Abel Mutai as they came into the home-stretch. The gap was too large for Anaya to close unless Mutai made a mistake. And Mutai did. In the last 10 meters or so, the track material switched from hard top to artificial turf. When the switch happened, Mutai seemed to think that meant he had crossed the finish line. And he began to stop. The gap between Mutai and Anaya disappeared.
But Anaya did something awesome and healthy, and it’s probably going to make him far more money than if he’d “lanced” Mutai and taken the top prize: he began to stop, too.
Realizing that Mutai couldn’t understand Spanish—so he didn’t know that the crowd was trying to tell him he hadn’t reached the finish line yet—Anaya slowed down beside Mutai and gestured to him so he would see the real finish line up ahead. The two finished the race together, Anaya behind Mutai, in second place, just as they would have if Mutai hadn’t made the mistake.
Interviewed about the race afterwards, Anaya said, “I didn’t deserve to win it. I did what I had to do. He was the rightful winner… As soon as I saw he was stopping, I knew I wasn’t going to pass him.”
It’s clichéd to say that winning isn’t everything. So I’m not going to say that. I can’t help but feel that winning was everything here, but that the idea of winning was totally different than what we assume it has to be. This was a huge win for being healthy in how we compete. It was a huge win for everybody that bases their self-worth on their actions instead of what other people say about them or what awards they stick beside their name. This was a big win for Anaya and everybody on his team.
Check out the full story here from El Pais: http://elpais.com/elpais/2012/12/19/inenglish/1355928581_856388.html
You can visit Ivan Fernandez Anaya’s blog here: http://ivanfernandezanaya.blogspot.com/