Friday, January 18, 2013

I am thankful for Basque athlete Iván Fernández Anaya

A few weeks back Nino read a book about Lance Armstrong and as is natural for a child his age, was so impressed by the feats he had achieved. He couldn't help marveling at the fact that a person could win the Tour de France seven times in a row. He was deeply moved by the fact that in spite of battling cancer, which he knew to be a deadly disease, he returned to cycling and by his will power and hard work went on to achieve all that he did. The book was obviously written before February 2011 when Lance Armstrong was charged by the United Stated Anti Doping Agency for using and distributing performance enhancing drugs and stripped of all his medals since August 1998. Very unfortunately we had to shatter the bubble he had created and bring down the cyclist from the larger than life pedestal the child had placed him on. The look on his face was not a pleasant one to see as he battled confusion, contempt, distrust. While it was a meaningful lesson in doing the right thing and the huge consequences following your choice of actions, still as a parent I felt a tug at my heart hoping that somehow everything could be undone and Lance Armstrong to go back to being the hero my son had just imagined him to be.

So today when I read about the Basque athlete Iván Fernández Anaya, I felt so heartened. I quote his glorious action

Very little has been said about this…..On December 2, Basque athlete Iván Fernández Anaya was competing in a cross-country race in Burlada, Navarre. He was running second, some distance behind race leader Abel Mutai - bronze medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the London Olympics. As they entered the finishing straight, he saw the Kenyan runner - the certain winner of the race - mistakenly pull up about 10 meters before the finish, thinking he had already crossed the line.
Fernández Anaya quickly caught up with him, but instead of exploiting Mutai's mistake to speed past and claim an unlikely victory, he stayed behind and, using gestures, guided the Kenyan to the line and let him cross first.
Ivan Fernandez Anaya, a Basque runner of 24 years who is considered an athlete with a big future (champion of Spain of 5,000 meters in promise category two years ago) said after the test:
"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."
He said at the beginning: 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 ... 

I can't wait to share this with Nino today to give him back hope, the trust that honest people still do exist and are recognized and the belief that no matter how 'big' you are, you really are only as big as your actions!

Like Ivan says, please do share this with your children and show them the video here.

1 comment:

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