Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

True Olympian

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It's often said the Olympic spirit can be found in those who give their best but finish last.

But it's also been evident in a variety of other ways during the Sochi Games and in previous Olympics.

The latest example was demonstrated by the selfless conduct of Canadian speedskater Gilmore Junio, who voluntarily surrendered his spot in the 1,000-metre race at Sochi to teammate Denny Morrison, who had fallen in a pre-Games qualifying race in Calgary.

Mr. Junio said he believed Mr. Morrison, at the Olympics for the 1,500-metre race, was a stronger skater, so he gave up his spot "in the best interests of the team."

Mr. Morrison won silver in the event Wednesday, but Junio was the true Olympian.

Earlier, the coach of the Canadian cross-country ski team offered another version of the Olympic spirit when he rushed to the aid of a Russian competitor who was struggling to finish the race with a broken ski. The coach, Justin Wadsworth, gave the Russian a Canadian ski so he could finish with dignity rather than hobbling to the end.

Canadian skier Sara Renner benefitted from a similar gesture at the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, when a Norwegian coach gave her a new pole to replace one that had broken. The gift helped Canada to a medal finish, bumping the Norwegian team off the podium.

These acts of altruism and kindness are what true sportsmanship is all about, and they should be an inspiration to competitors everywhere.

The Canadian Olympic team should consider allowing Mr. Junio to carry the flag at the closing ceremonies. He put his sport, his team and his country ahead of personal ambition in a true and moving display of the real Olympic spirit.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 13, 2014 A14

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