Last week there was a triathlon in Santander in the north of Spain. I’m now going to show you a short clip of what happened.
The third place British athlete, James Teagle, made a mistake as he came round the final bend and went the wrong way into a barrier. The fourth placed athlete, Diego Mentriga from Spain, overtook him. Mentriga was only a few metres from the finish line when he realised what had happened, stopped and let Teagle cross the line before him, to win the bronze medal, Mentriga finishing in fourth place and not winning a medal.
What an incredible thing to do! What an act of sportsmanship! After the race Mentriga simply said “James deserved this medal”. Isn’t it impressive that an athlete – especially a professional athlete - would do such a thing? Nobody would have criticised him if he had crossed the line himself – and he didn’t have time to think about it – but his instinct for goodness made him do the right thing in that moment.
Now it’s okay to win. As you know, when we go out to play sport for the school we play to win; there’s nothing wrong in winning. However, not at all costs: there are more important things than winning. I’m sure that this act of sportsmanship will be remembered – and Mentriga for his actions – long after the result of the race is forgotten.
Here is an example from closer to home. This photo was taken just after the final whistle of our 1st XV rugby match against Pangbourne College played under the lights at Henley Rugby Club last November. It shows our Captain of Rugby, Morgan MacRae - who has just signed a contract with Scarlets and we hope may be our next sporting international – embracing the Pangbourne captain after a very hard fought game. We narrowly won the game, but Pangbourne ran us very close in the second half with a strong comeback.
Having just been playing against each other with total commitment, this photo shows wonderfully the true spirit of sport and the sportsmanship we should display when we step on to the field of play and in all of our dealings with other people. As we heard in yesterday’s Gospel, “the last shall be first”.