‘Sportsmanship in the biggest way possible’

‘Sportsmanship in the biggest way possible’

One of the most inspiring moments in sports took place in Doha, Qatar, on the first night of the track and field world championships. Aruba athlete Jonathan Busby collapsed in the final 200 meters of the 5,000-meter qualifying race, but crossed the finish line with the incredible help of Guinea-Bissau’s athlete, Braima Suncar Dabo. And although Dabo did not win any medals at the world championships, he surely won the admiration of the crowd, as well as the “gold medal” for sportsmanship.

In an exclusive interview with Kathimerini, Jonathan Busby talked about Dabo’s sportsmanship moment, the final 200m of the race, his feelings, as well as the influence this moment could have on younger generations.

After the race, Portuguese-speaking Dabo said that “anyone in that situation would have done the same thing,” Busby disagrees. “I was very surprised that he helped me out instead of passing me,” he says.

“And when he helped me at first, I thought he was already finished, and he was cooling down. In many interviews after our race, he said that anyone would have done the same. But in the world that we live in, most people live for their own sake. Instead, he helped me out. This is sportsmanship in the biggest way possible.”

Being kind and helping others is seen rarely in huge sporting events with professional athletes who compete for a championship or a medal. “I’m affected by his kindness in such a way that I called him the biggest man with the biggest heart I will ever know,” said the 32-year old athlete from Aruba while referring to his opponent.

“I don’t think many [people] have the same heart. He said that he didn’t even hesitate to help me, and I’m going to appreciate that for the rest of my life.”

In a matter of hours, millions of people from all over the world had watched this incredibly warm incident. Even though winning is important, respecting and lending a hand when someone needs it, comes first. Busby understands that everyone simply wants to win. “It’s hard to inspire the younger generations because everybody wants to win, and that’s okay. I can understand it, because of the effort, discipline, time, money, etc., you must invest if you really want to see the results,” he points out.

“But this moment, really set a tone on sportsmanship. Maybe people won’t even understand what sportsmanship is nowadays, but I really feel that this moment will create a trend for people helping each other,” he argues.

As for the qualifying race itself, the extreme heat at Khalifa Stadium played a massive role in Busby’s collapse in the final 200m. He dehydrated, and his legs “went out.”

“At first, I thought I was letting my country down. My legs went out. The doctors told me that I dehydrated, which had a lot to do with the weather conditions,” Busby tells Kathimerini.

Asked what he would do had not Dabo come to help him, Busby claims he would have found a way to cross the finish line. “Giving up wasn’t an option, even though I was going to fall down,” he says. “I would have crawled to the finish line.”

Eventually, despite not speaking the same language, Busby and Dabo became friends for life. They even enjoyed a day together in Qatar. “We have already become good friends. We went on tour in Qatar together. He is just a very humble and kind human being. We’ll stay friends for life,” he says.

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