I am going to end the 2008 calendar year with my 3 “good sportsmanship stories” or what I call “Feel Good Stories” of the year. I will focus on the Olympics (of course) and surprisingly this list does not include a gentlemen named Mr. Bolt.
Tia Hellabaut Retires
On December 5, Tia Hellabaut announces retirement and is 3 months pregnant.
Interesting set of dates, as she won her gold medal on August 23… 3 and a half months prior to her announcement.
My guess is she celebrated in more ways than a few Belgian beers! Talk about a “feel good” story!
2008 Olympic High Jump champion Tia Hellebaut announced the end of her athletics career at a press conference today in Brussels.
At the age of 30, the Belgian star said that she has achieved more than she had ever dreamed of in her athletics career. Now, Hellebaut wants to concentrate on family matters. Surprisingly Hellebaut also announced that she is three months pregnant, expecting her first child with her coach and partner Wim Vandeven.
Lolo Jones – Humanitarian of the Year
Lolo Jones was named the Visa Humanitarian Athlete of the Year by USA Track and Field.
So what if you don’t win the Gold medal? After all, it’s the character and discipline you develop, and the friends you make along the way that is more important. In life, it’s not what you make that counts; it what you give that matters more.
I love it when athletes give back to the sport.
Off the track, Jones gave her $4,000 in prize money to a fund assisting Renee Trout, a single mother from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who was a victim of the Iowa floods after winning the 100-meter hurdles at the Olympic Trials. Jones’ sponsors each matched Jones’ $4,000 prize, bringing the total donation to $12,000.
While in Des Moines for the Drake Relays in April, Jones gave each girl on Theodore Roosevelt High School track team a pair of spikes and made a $3,000 donation to the school to repair the track and buy hurdles. While competing at Roosevelt as a prep star, Jones set the Iowa state record in the 100m hurdles (13.40), a mark that still stands today.
“I’ve been receiving help from charities and other assistance programs since I was young so it was only natural for me to give back,” said Jones.
Crawford Gives Back Silver medal
Interesting concept. Cross the line in 4th place, get a silver medal from 2 DQs, including a DQ from Churandy Martina of the Netherlands Antilles.
The big question or controversy is whether Martina’s disqualification came within the 30 minute window after the race was over. Wallace Spearmon was disqualified immediately after the race by officials, followed by the Americans filing the protest on Martina.
We’ll see the outcome on January 15, 2009.
With the Beijing medal in his hands for the first time, Martina called Crawford and invited him to his hotel room to talk. “He told me he didn’t fell good that it was his medal,” Martina said by phone Monday from El Paso, Tex. where he lives. “He said he doesn’t deserve it.”
Crawford’s act of sportsmanship is believed to be the first time a track and field athlete has willingly given an Olympic medal to a competitor out of a sense of fair play. Emil Zatopek gave his 10,000m gold medal from the 1952 Helsinki Games to Australian Ron Clarke because he felt Clarke deserved it. Clarke’s only Olympic medal was a bronze in the 1964 Tokyo Games.
Martina and American Wallace Spearmon, Jr. finished second and third respectively in the 200m final in Beijing but were disqualified for running out of their lanes. While reviewing the race video to consider an appeal for Spearmon, USA Track and Field coaches noticed that Martina ran out of his lane and asked that he be disqualified.
Crawford, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist in the event, moved up from fourth to second and fellow American Walter Dix advanced from fifth to take the bronze.
The Netherlands Antilles Olympic committee in late August filed an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the IAAF, the world governing body for track and field, asking that the court nullify Martina’s disqualification. The committee claims the USATF’s request to disqualify Martina came after the 30-minute time limit for post-race protests. The CAS will begin hearing the appeal on Jan. 15.
This story reminded me of the incident at the 2001 Canada Summer Games when bronze medalist Daniel Blouin of Quebec was DQ’ed for pulling a moon to the crowd, and 4th place Steeplechase finisher Reid Coolsaet of Ontario gave the “bumped up bronze medal” back to Blouin.
Happy New Year to all my readers! May 2009 bring Personal Best, Seasons Best, and Age Group Bests to my Masters friends!