‘The Rightful Winner’: Runner Guides Opponent to Finish Line to Let Him Win 1st Place

February 23, 2019 Updated: February 23, 2019

An athlete has been praised for being honest and setting a good example of sportsmanship after he intentionally let his faster opponent—who mistook the finish line position—win the race.

On Dec. 2, 2012, Iván Fernández Anaya, a Spanish athlete, participated in a cross-country race in Burlada, Spain. He was some distance behind Abel Mutai, a bronze medalist at the London Olympics, when he noticed the Kenyan runner stop.

Photo courtesy of John M. Sweeney

It turned out that Mutai mistakenly thought he had reached the finish line when, in fact, he was still a short distance away.

The spectators were urging Mutai to continue forward but Mutai didn’t understand them as they were speaking Spanish.

So, when Fernández Anaya caught up, he guided Mutai to the finish line instead of running past him to claim victory.

La vida es como un espejo; te sonríe si la miras sonriendo.

Iván Fernández Anaya 发布于 2013年12月3日周二

Anaya later explained to El Pais the reason for letting Mutai win.

“I didn’t deserve to win it,” the 24-year-old said. “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 soon as I saw he was stopping, I knew I wasn’t going to pass him.”

His coach, Martín Fiz, approved of his actions.

Iván Fernández Anaya 发布于 2013年11月7日周四

“It was a very good gesture of honesty,” Fiz said. “A gesture of the kind that isn’t made any more. Or rather, of the kind that has never been made. A gesture that I myself wouldn’t have made. I certainly would have taken advantage of it to win.”

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

Ya somos mas de 7000 Amig@s en todo el mundo. Gracias por apoyarme día a día a seguir mejorando. Disfruten del día.Ivàn."No importa lo lejos que llegues, si en el camino has dado lo mejor de ti".

Iván Fernández Anaya 发布于 2014年1月7日周二

Fernández Anaya told Catholic News Agency that he and Mutai had chatted a little after the race.

“We talked a little bit but we didn’t understand each other much. He thanked me for allowing him to win,” Fernández Anaya said.

"La vida es un regalo y si le añades sueños que cumplir y retos que superar es una aventura maravillosa."

Iván Fernández Anaya 发布于 2015年9月22日周二

While Fernández Anaya couldn’t win first place, he is proud of what he did.

“I have earned more of a name having done what I did than if I had won,” he told El Pais. “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.”

Kudos to Fernández Anaya for exemplifying true sportsmanship!

If you were in Fernández Anaya’s shoes, would you have done the same?

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