Proof that good news sometimes travels slowly, Iván Fernández Anaya and his kind gesture during a cross-country race last December is now gaining widespread attention in social media circles.
The Spanish runner trailed Olympic bronze medallist Abel Mutai of Kenya during an event last December.
Mutai slowed as he neared the finish line, believing he’d won when he was still several meters from the tape.
Realizing his competitor’s mistake, Anaya approached Mutai from behind and motioned him to the proper finishing line.
“I didn’t deserve to win it,” Anaya, 24, told El Pais. “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.”
By Friday afternoon, a photo of Anaya and Mutai had been shared more than 81,000 times while garnering over 136,500 “likes” and 8,000-plus comments.
“All in all, he’s just a true athlete in every sense,” Jordan Armstrong of Hampton, Virginia wrote on Facebook. “Does the heart good.”
Haidie McGilbert of Sydney, Australia said: “Such a great story. He deserves a massive commendation.”
“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.”
The only person who wasn’t impressed was Anaya’s coach.
“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.”[View the story "Ivan Fernandez Anaya: no shame in second for runner" on Storify]
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