An unlikely hero emerged recently at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Surprisingly, it wasn't one of the incredible competitors, but a coach. Russian Anton Gafarov took a spill during a tricky turn in his cross-country sprint semifinal.
Gafarov picked himself up and continued, determined to finish the race. But his ski was so badly damaged that he struggled to propel himself with his poles even downhill. He fell again and his ski snapped in half. But he rose again. He was more than 2 minutes behind in a race that takes 4 minutes to complete. Yet, he was determined to finish the race, at one point even trying to ski on the one good ski.
Enter the hero, a man bounded down the hill toward Gafarov, holding a single ski. Without saying anything, he bent down, removed the broken ski, and replaced it with the new ski. Gafarof took off and finished the race to an incredible ovation from the Olympic crowd. "This is what the Olympic spirit is all about!" exclaimed the NBC commentator.
So who was this Good Samaritan? It was Canadian cross-country coach Justin Wadsworth, a coach from a rival country! His motivation - empathy, to do the right thing, practice sportsmanship, and serve. “I wanted him to have dignity as he crossed the finish line.” Wadsworth said. “It’s kind of like seeing an animal in a trap. I couldn't just let him sit there."
The hero was shocked that his gesture drew any attention. When a reporter asked to speak to him after the race, he wondered why. When told because of Gafarov, he said "Oh, that," and added that he was "surprised anyone would care." Coach Wadsworth, you did Canada proud, the Olympics proud, humanity proud, and reflected the character of Christ Himself. Good on ya! Your simple act makes my favorite and lasting memory of the Sochi Olympics the 12th place finish in the men's cross-country sprint semifinal.
My favorite quote from Sochi: I wanted him to have dignity as he crossed the finish line. Video Here
Posted on Sun, February 16, 2014
by Kerry O'Neill filed under