Sportsman spirit carries the day at Khalifa Stadium
Braima Suncar Dabo of Guinea-Bissau shows that winning is not everything by helping his struggling rival across the line.
The fancied athletes and the not-so-fancied runners had vanished into the change rooms, but the cheers from the fans kept getting louder at the Khalifa International Stadium on Friday.
On the track were two men from the sport’s hinterland – Jonathan Busby of Aruba and Braima Suncar Dabo of Guinea-Bissau. Into the final lap of the 5000M qualifying round at the IAAF World Championships, Busby had almost collapsed onto the track when he found Dabo’s helping hand.
Together they inched forward, with Dabo almost shouldering the entire weight of Busby. It seemed Busby might not make it, but Dabo hoisted him up. With the crowd cheering their every step, the two then slowly made it to the finish line.
No medals were on offer on the opening day at the main venue, but for exemplary sportsman spirit, Dabo certainly deserved one. For a moment, the mind travelled back to the Barcelona Olympic Games when British runner Derek Redmond’s father ran on to the track to help his son to the finish, after he injured a hamstring.
Also coming to mind was the incident in Rio Olympics when New Zealander Nikki Hamblin fell onto the track in the 5000M qualifying, taking American Abbey D’Agostino along with her. The two had helped each other to the finish thereafter, and was later given the Olympic fair play award.
The IAAF, in partnership with the International Fair Play Committee, also recognises moments of exemplary fair play at the World Championships. Dabo’s gesture could well be in the running for the prize but that thought would have been farthest from his mind when he helped Busby across the finish.
“My main aim here was to represent my country and improve my personal best. When I realised I could not achieve my goal, it made no sense to me to overtake him,” said Dabo. “We could both finish the race and represent our respective countries. I was not listening to the crowd, I just focused on helping him cross the line.”