When Sportsmanship Trumps Cereal Boxes
When sportsmanship trumps cereal boxes
There are those who are champions on courses of competition. Then there are those who are victors in their caliber of character, too. In our often wayward world, the latter ought to be given not just a gold medal but a golden crown.
Being dead lastis never fun. I would imagine that it is particularly painful if you’ve trained like a world champion, traveled halfway around the world and are competing at the Winter Olympics.
Roberto Carcelen of Peru was racing in a 15-kilometer cross-country skiing event. One unique hurdle he had, however, was that he was competing with a fractured rib. He had suffered the broken bone days before the Sochi, Russia, games in a training crash. And he ignored the doctor’s advice not to compete. Carcelen hadn’t come that far to stop at the starting gate.
Thrusting his arms back and forth to plant his ski poles in the snow as he competed in the cross-country men’s classic must have been like boxing with a broken rib. I can’t imagine the pain he must have endured.
Carcelen later confirmed: “It was a very difficult race for me. … I was in a lot of pain in my right ribs.”
Carcelen already had made history at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, when he became Peru’s first Olympic athlete. Now he was determined to double down the Peruvian pride and simultaneously win the hearts of people all around the world.
For Carcelen, racing with his broken rib, finishing was winning. And that’s exactly what he was determined to do as he approached the finish line in last place, waving Peru’s flag as he did.
Dario Cologna of Switzerland had finished in first and won the gold (his third) with a time of 38 minutes, 29 seconds. Carcelen crossed the finished line at one
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And Wadsworth’s only commentary about the entire incident and why he had helped a rival competitor was this: “I wanted him to have dignity as he crossed the finish line.”
When a champion waits to congratulate a last-place wounded competitor, it shows Olympic sportsmanship. But when a champion bends down on his knees to pick up and serve one who is his rival, it demonstrates Olympic gold.
As inspiring as these Olympic stories are, however, they shouldn’t come as a shock. But the fact is, in a world where integrity and servanthood take second place to image and superiority, tales of decency stand out like the Olympic torch in the night sky. And they also remind us of a timeless truth: We all need to have victorious values. Morals before medals, others before ourselves. Our character should be solid gold, not merely goldplated. The golden rule should be our gold standard. And sportsmanship and kindness should always trump winning or seeing our photo on a box of Wheaties.