Like many, Fernando Alvarez was distraught over the terror attack that killed 15 and injured over one hundred more in Barcelona just last week. To honor the victims of the attack, Alvarez wanted to hold a minute of silence before he competed at the FINA Masters World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Since holding a minute of silence before a sporting even is not an uncommon practice, it didn’t seem like it would be an issue. But there was a miscommunication and his request was not honored.
Alvarez wished to hold a minute of silence before his heat.
When he found out the competition’s organizer’s wouldn’t honor his request to hold a minute of silence before the race, Alvarez decided to stay on the starting block while his competitors dove into the water.
“I left a minute later,” Alvarez said. “But I do not care, I felt better than if I won all the gold in the world.”
Alvarez told El Espanol that prior to the event he sent an email to the competition’s president. When he didn’t receive a reply he spoke to officials at the competition and was told his request would be forwarded to the appropriate person. He made one last attempt and asked the director for a moment of silence, and although he finally received an answer, it wasn’t the one he was looking for.
Event organizers reportedly said they didn’t have a minute to spare.
“I really think it would have been a good thing to do,” Alvarez said.
Despite the competition not honoring his request, the swimmer honored the victims in his own way, by waiting a full minute before joining his competitors in the pool.
Alvarez has since received a lot of praise from fans and strangers alike, commending him on his actions. The same cannot be said for FINA, the swimming federation that organized the championships. They have since issued a statement claiming that Alvarez never made such a request, and if he did they would have honored it.
Regardless, the act of Alvarez sacrificing his time—he was so far behind his competitors that officials didn’t count his time—in a final heat for something he believed in is worthy of recognition.