YOG acts of kindness
To mark World Kindness Day on 13 November, olympic.org spotlights three moments at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG), which encapsulate one aspect of what makes the Olympic spirit so special.
A bike between friends
The Solomon Islands sent just three athletes to the YOG Nanjing 2014 – one of whom, Boris Teddy, was invited to compete in the triathlon. As Teddy admitted, bike training can be difficult back home: “We don’t have good roads in the Solomon Islands, [and] there are many potholes and trucks.”
During training, Ian Murray, Team USA’s triathlon coach, noticed that Teddy was being held back by his bike. “The wheel was bent,” he said. “It was very heavy. The components were very old. It was just a slow bike.”
So in an act of great kindness, the coach lent the athlete his own bike for the race – and was delighted to help. “The USA is a country that’s very well-off, [and] to help a young athlete from the Solomon Islands is an honour.”
A similar example of sportsmanship occurred during the Winter YOG Lillehammer 2016 – but in this case, it was a fellow competitor helping an athlete in need.
One-third of the way through the men’s 7.5km biathlon sprint, Australia’s Jethro Mahon tripped on his pole and broke a binding. His race seemed to be over but Mart Všivtsev, a fellow competitor, had other ideas.
As Mahon described, “An Estonian biathlete came and gave me his spare ski. It was a fully waxed ski, which is time-consuming to do, fully prepared.” The Australian went on to finish the race. “That was very, very nice of him,” he said. “I can hardly believe it.”
Competing in the YOG Nanjing 2014, Polish fencer Sylwia Matuszak found herself up against it when her first sabre of choice was deemed inadequate for competition, and her spare then broke during her bout with Greek fencer Theodora Gkountoura.
By rights, no weapon means no match, and Matuszak could have been disqualified. But Gkountoura lent Matuszak her own spare weapon, allowing her to continue. In acknowledgment of this generous gesture, the International Fair Play Committee (CIFP) awarded Gkountoura a youth diploma in its annual World Fair Play Awards.