I love the Olympics. Who doesn’t? Every Olympics brings us highs and lows and amazingly emotional memories that will stay with us forever. This year was no different and I’m sure there are memories still to come before Sunday’s closing ceremony.
This year we have that amazing gold-winning, risk-taking performance from Charlotte Worthington in the Freestyle BMX after falling on her first run. We have Tom Daley finally becoming Olympic Champion after 16 years of incredibly hard work. Three teenagers win the medals in the street skateboarding. The Philippines first gold medal ever. The long-needed conversations about sexist uniform disparities. Adam Peaty being, well Adam Peaty again. Britain’s first woman’s team gymnastics medal in 93 years.
All the memories and the emotion is why we love sport so much, so let me tell you a tale of old about an old Italian bobsledder who encompasses the truly remarkable spirit of the Olympic games.
In the 1964 winter games in Innsbruck Eugenio Monti was competing for Italy with his team in both the four-man and two-man bobsleigh events. His main competition in the two-man event was Tony Nash and Robyn Dixon of Great Britain, but on the first run in the final, the British sledge had an issue. They sheared off the rear axle bolt and didn’t have a spare. Their games were effectively over until Eugenio Monti came over and said, ‘Don’t worry. Send an Englishman down to meet me at the finish and you can have mine.’
Nash and Dixon took gold with Monti and Sergio Siorpaes in third place.
In the four-man bobsleigh, Monti and his team were up against Vic Emery’s world-class Canadian team. On their first run, the Canadian team had damaged their sledge and were unable to continue and complete their second run, but when they returned to the start, they found Monti and his team of Italian mechanics working on their sledge getting it fit for the final run.
Canadian went on to take gold with Monti’s Italian team finishing again in third place.
Monti didn’t just want to win. He didn’t want a hollow victory. He wanted to compete with the best, performing at their best and win, knowing he delivered his best. That’s how to become the very best you can be and Monti eventually did.
For his amazing acts of sportsmanship, he was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal for his contribution to the spirit of the Olympics. He also went on to win gold in both the four-man and two-man events in the 1968 Grenoble Olympics.
What’s been your best memory of the Tokyo 2021 Olympics?