Saturday, January 19, 2013

Runner Ivan Fernandez Anaya's Good Deed Inspires Many

It often takes Facebook and/or Twitter to bring recognition to worthy stories. Like the generous gesture of 24-year-old Basque cross-country racer Iván Fernández Anaya.

In the lead during a race last December, Kenyan Abel Mutai- the London Olympics winner of the bronze medal for the 3,000 meter steeplechase- made a huge mistake as he approached the finishing line. Anaya was coming in second when Mutai thought he had crossed the finish line about 10 meters before he had. As Anaya caught up he lagged behind Mutai gesturing him on to win. Anaya could easily have taken advantage of Mutai's mistake, but made the conscious choice not to.

"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."

The story took a month to gain traction:

"..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 ..."

Of his actions, Anaya said:

“I didn’t deserve to win it." “I did what I had to do. He was the rightful winner. He created a gap that I couldn’t have closed if he hadn’t made a mistake.”

As for what Mutai thought of Anaya's kindness:

“We talked a little bit but we didn’t understand each other much,” the Spaniard told Catholic News Agency. “He thanked me for allowing him to win.”

Anaya has had a ton of positive response for what he did, his coach on the other hand wasn't too thrilled.

“The gesture has made him a better person, but not a better athlete,” Martin Fiz told El Pais. “He has wasted an occasion. Winning always makes you more of an athlete. You have to go out to win.”

He's wrong, it was the right thing to do and just proves that sometimes it's far more important for humanity to trump competitiveness. This is how we win the hearts and souls of the people we share this planet with. He did a good deed, and that will go much further when he meets his maker than any amount of medals or trophies would. What he did will not only have a positive impact on Mutai, but everyone who watched it first hand, and those of us who are reading about it now.

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